In 1906 Margaret Greville, one of the foremost society hostesses of Edwardian London, bought an early 19th century house and estate in the Surrey Hills, close to Dorking and within easy reach of her base in London. Mrs Greville intended Polesden Lacey to serve as a location for weekend parties; intimate gatherings of an elite circle of friends and acquaintances. 

With the combination of her father’s wealth and her husband’s social connections Mrs Greville moved in an elite circle of society; she entertained royals from Edward VII to George VI, and was named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1922. She welcomed the great and the good of London society to her house in Charles Street, Mayfair and delighted in being able to attract movie stars and maharajahs to her parties.

Mrs Greville was a fascinating character. She moved in the highest social circles, and could be kind and thoughtful, or wickedly acerbic. Arthur Balfour called her wit ‘honeyed poison’, and others were less complimentary still! Edward VII described her gift for entertaining as ‘genius’.