Gregynog Guests

Gwendoline and Margaret Davies could simply have made Gregynog Hall their home, a quiet retreat to receive company and to display their internationally-renowned collection of French nineteenth-century painting and sculpture. Instead, the sisters chose to share their imposing mansion in rural Montgomeryshire for the benefit of others.

Gwendoline and Margaret championed social, educational and cultural initiatives in Wales. Their renowned music festivals and private printing press, as well as the national and international conferences that the sisters hosted, attracted eminent visitors from near and far. Gregynog’s Visitor Books record a constant stream of houseguests. Up to forty might stay at the Hall at any time, while others lodged nearby.

Each gathering would, the sisters hoped, go some way to build a new Wales in the aftermath of the Great War. Ernest Rhys, author and editor of the Everyman series of literary classics, thought it remarkable to find in the sisters such ‘wealth wise and culture kind’.

Meet here some of Gregynog’s famous visitors and houseguests during the 1920s and 1930s:

Joyce Grenfell, Actor
H. Avray Tipping, Garden Designer
Elsie Suddaby, Soprano
Gustav Holst, Composer
Nancy, Viscountess Astor, MP
William Wardorf, 2nd Viscount Astor
Lady Evelyn Barbirolli, Oboist
Dr Albrecht Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Helen Waddell, Poet and Playwright
Hugh Blaker, Artist and Connoisseur
Adila Fachiri, Hungarian Violinist
Sir Edward Salisbury, Director of Kew
Lascelles Abercrombie, Poet
Murray Urquhart, Artist
Werner von Grünau, Diplomat
Sir T H Parry Williams, Poet
Sir Ben Bowen Thomas, Civil Servant
Sir Wilfred Griffin Eady, Diplomat
Paul Nash, Artist
Violet Markham, Social Reformer
Blair Hughes-Stanton, Artist
Mary Jarred, Contralto
William McCance, Artist
Dame Sybil Thorndyke, Actor
Sir John Barbirolli, Conductor
Armin Kaufmann, Composer
Sir Adrian Boult, Conductor
Sir Herbert Read, Art Historian
Caroline and Frances Byng-Stamper
Herbert John Fleure, Anthropologist
Paul Matt, Furniture Designer
Sir Charles Groves, Conductor
Baroness Eirene White, Labour MP
Ceri Richards, Artist
Ifan ab Owen Edwards, Urdd Founder
Sir Lewis Casson, Actor and Director
Agnes Miller Parker, Artist
Gertrude Hermes, Artist
John Reith, 1st BBC Director-General
Dame Isobel Baillie, Soprano
Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister
Jelly D’Aranyi, Violinist
Sir Henry Wood, Conductor
George Bernard Shaw, Playwright
Sir Edward Elgar, Composer
Sir Henry Walford Davies, Conductor
Toni von Sender, Socialist & Feminist
Sir Matthew Smith, Artist
Winifred Coombe Tennant
Lord Hugh Pattison Macmillan MP
Geoffrey Crawshay, Social Benefactor
Sir Charles Aitken, Tate Director
Sir Keith Falkner
Thomas J. Watson, IBM Chair & CEO
Thomas Jones CH, Civil Servant
Ernest Rhys, Writer and Editor