Margaret <I>McEwan</I> Greville

Margaret McEwan Greville

Death 15 Sep 1942 (aged 78)
West Clandon, Guildford Borough, Surrey, England
Burial Great Bookham, Mole Valley District, Surrey, England
Plot Rose garden
Memorial ID 8250816 · View Source
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British Socialite, Philanthropist. Situated high up on the North Downs is the ancient estate of Polesden Lacey, now dominated by the early 19th century house designed by Thomas Cubitt. The main attraction of Polesden Lacey, however, was the enigmatic Edwardian hostess, Mrs. Ronald Greville. Born under shrouded circumstances, Margaret Greville was reputedly the illegitimate daughter of William McEwan, founder of the famous Scottish brewery business. Backed by his great wealth and power, she found her way into London society where she met her husband, Ronald, himself a great friend of Edward VII. For several years Mr & Mrs Greville's life revolved around entertaining the rich and famous, including the King, at their fashionable London home, but Margaret Greville wanted to outshine other London hostesses by having a second home in the country. The newly restored house at Polesden Lacey proved an ideal location, with wonderful views across The Downs, and easy access from London. Extending the house to provide an additional suite of rooms for use by Edward VII, Mrs Greville employed Charles Mewes and Arthur Davis to transform the comfortable but plain country house into a sumptuous and elegant arena for entertaining. Acclaimed for their exotic style of French architecture, as seen at The Ritz, Mewes and Davis oversaw every detail of the building work, decoration, furnishings and art displays to create a setting literally 'fit for a King'. Following the premature death of her husband in 1908, Mrs Ronald Greville divided her time between travelling abroad, and holding lavish dinner parties at both Polesden Lacey and her London home. She became the 'prima donna' of Edwardian society hostesses over the next 30 years, as famous for her exquisite French cuisine as for her distinguished guests. Photographs recording the various occasions when royalty, heads of state, politicians and titled dignitaries were entertained are scattered throughout the house. A sizeable and diverse art collection provides much fascination at Polesden, with everything from Dutch Old Masters, an inheritance from her father, to oriental porcelain and contemporary jewelry. When she died in 1942, Mrs Greville insisted that the house and grounds be made accessible for public enjoyment, and that her art treasures be placed on permanent display. This powerful, often controversial, lady was undoubtedly a force to reckon with during her lifetime and a browse around the few downstairs rooms, the only ones open to the public, reveal something of her flamboyant and colourful character. Determined to have a lasting presence at Polesden Lacey, her grave is situated at the back of the house, in front of the rose garden.

Bio by: Connie Nisinger

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Connie Nisinger
  • Added: 8 Jan 2004
  • Find A Grave Memorial 8250816
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Margaret McEwan Greville (20 Dec 1863–15 Sep 1942), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8250816, citing Polesden Lacey Estate, Great Bookham, Mole Valley District, Surrey, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .