Our library recording project - in partnership with with The Arts Society East Surrey and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund - is to record, clean and begin to repair our huge book collection. Hilary Ely, lead volunteer, updates us on another find. 

'For dear Peggy'

Our latest 'Tale from the Library' is prompted by a copy of British Architects and Craftsmen: A Survey of Taste, Design, and Style during Three Centuries 1600 to 1830  by Sacheverell Sitwell. Sitwell was part of a well-known literary and artistic family, alongside his sister Edith and brother Osbert, and this book includes a chapter on Elizabethan and Jacobean architecture. The book was published in 1945. 

Book jacket illustration of eighteenth century man in street

 The book was evidently a gift from Queen Mary, widow of King George V (mother of King George VI and grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II) to Lady Crewe. She knew Lady Crewe well; in April 1913, George V and Queen Mary were guests of Lord and Lady Crewe for three days at Crewe Hall in Cheshire.

It has an inscription from Queen Mary, and a short note in her hand on her writing paper.










letter and inscription

Inscription on the flyleaf:


dear Peggy

from Mary R


July 1945






handwrittten letter

Letter (unsigned):


[Monogram: Crowned ‘M’ surrounded by the Garter and motto ‘Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense’]


This is the book I mentioned to you

I hope you will like it, so nice to have seen you again.






photograph Queen Mary 1938 NPG

Queen Mary (1867-1953) was Queen Mother at the time of this gift. She was born Princess Mary of Teck, and married in 1893 Prince George Duke of York, later King George V, who died in 1936, succeeded by their son George VI. 

Her biographer, James Pope-Hennessy, also wrote the biographies of Lord Crewe and his father Lord Houghton. Hugo Vickers, in his edited version of Pope-Hennessy’s research notes The Quest for Queen Mary (2018), presents his rather hilarious account of a visit in 1949 by Queen Mary to Lady Crewe at West Horsley Place when he was present.  It is thought that his biography of Lord Crewe was his ‘calling-card’ for the commission to write the life of Queen Mary. Queen Mary was noted for her interest in art, crafts and design, and her knowledge of and research into the Royal Collection enabled many missing items to be restored to it. She had the reputation of being an avid, even ruthless collector of precious items.

Photograph @National Portrait Gallery, Hay Wrighton 1934