Home » Guild of St George » Recent Articles:

“You know you are only allowed ONE egg, dear”

April 12, 2010 Mary Greg 3 Comments

Through our links with Dr Stuart Eagles, Sharon has just forwarded some pages copied from the fantastic book by Sheila Ormerod, ‘The Gregs of Westmill’ (Buntingford, 1996).  A few more clues about Mary emerge…

She was remembered as an overly frugal housekeeper who would not allow her husband to have two eggs for breakfast and was much impressed by a lecturer who declared that margarine was better than butter for domestic staff. (p.18)

And as if by way of an afterthought, the paragraph continues…

However, she was generous to the village.

So, beneficent to the world, but alas, not to poor Thomas!

The article also points out that at 8 years older than Thomas, Mary would not have married until she was 45.  Perhaps this is a reason for their lack of children?

Alongside this reading, I have been busy pursuing links with the Guild of St George, and have contacted the former Master, Dr James Dearden who is an authority on Mary Greg, as well as Robert Wilson who is the Director of Westmill interests, so I’m eagerly anticipating further information…

Hazel and I also met this morning to plan our session at this year’s Association of Art Historians Conference in Glasgow on Friday morning.  More to follow after the event.


A Fabulous Research Contribution!

A big thanks to Dr Stuart Eagle who got in touch following the Guild of St George post.  Our subsequent email correspondence has revealed some new leads for our research and provided us with some fantastic contacts with The Guild and The Ruskin Review who we hope will help publicise our project.  Stuart is about to publish his doctoral thesis “After Ruskin: the social and political legacies of a Victorian Prophet”  and was kind enough to forward us his chapter on Ruskin and the Companions of the Guild of St George.  He also brought to our attention an article by Mary B  Rose “Diversification of Investment by the Greg Family 1800 – 1914” which provides us with background information on the Greg family’s finances. This gives us some insight into Mary’s financial status which of course provided the means to fund her collecting.

Stuart has also recently been to Westmill and forwarded me some images of the church and Mary’s tombstone and memorial tablet which I post here for you to see.  This wonderful sharing of knoiwledge is what the project is all about, so if  anybody else out there  has anything to contribute please do get in touch.  Sharon

The church at Westmill, Buntingford, Hertfordshire

Mary and Thomas Tylston Greg Tombstone

Mary and Thomas Tylston Greg Memorial Tablet

Mary and the Guild of St George

March 29, 2010 featured, Mary Greg 1 Comment
Mary and the Guild of St George

John Ruskin, Founder of the Guild of St George

Mary’s connection with the Guild of St George was revealed on our visit to Sheffield to see her nature diaries which are held in the Ruskin Collection.  Apparently Mary introduced herself to the Guild in the early 1930’s (the first letter from her to the Guild held in the Sheffield archive is dated 1935) keen to support their causes which she identified as being close to her heart.

The Guild of St George was founded  by John Ruskin in the 1870’s as a non-profit making body to “promote the advancement of education and training in the field of rural economy, industrial design and craftsmanship and appreciation of the arts”.  Ruskin appealed for donations of land and property which were held in trust and rented out at affordable rents on long leases in order to implement and support his utopian, social ideals.  In addition to this he established the St George’s Museum in Sheffield (now part of the Millennium Galleries).  He amassed a collection which was intended to be available to the working class to assist “the liberal education of the artisan”, making works of art accessible to the people.

It is clear from reading Mary’s letters to William Batho that she identified strongly with these ideals, but her commitment to this cause was all the more reinforced in the reading of her Will  which reveals that she bequeathed a significant number of properties in Westmill (the village in which she lived for many years and location of the family residence, Coles) to the Guild.  Her generosity was acknowledged in her Guild status of ‘Companion Extraordinaire’.  Mary wrote to the Guild regularly from 1935 till the mid 1940’s and the letters are held in the Sheffield archive, Box GSG21, box 18.  She also donated a number of objects to the Guild “…a little portrait and an Italian casket … a circular revolving table with drawers, all sound…”.  On the 30th November, 1941 she writes “..I have come to the end of my treasures”.

Her last letter to them dated June 20th, 1945 details her great interest in Ruskin’s influence and the various papers and speeches she has enjoyed on the subject.  She was in her 96th year, demonstrating the energy, passion and sharp intellect she maintained throughout her life.  An amazing woman!  Sharon