St Margaret's churchyard is not short of famous dead bodies, being the resting place of
William Caxton, Sir Walter Raleigh, Wenceslaus Hollar, the brilliant engraver of London,
and the largest number of regicides you'll find anywhere. But there is only one tomb
Close to the road between St Margaret's church and Parliament Square, it is regularly ignored by passers by but is the source of one of the wealthiest families the country has ever known.
Here lies Alexander Davies who died of the plague in July, 1665. He was heavily in debt because of property speculation on Millbank but the lands his seven month old daughter, Mary and his wife (also, Mary) inherited included what we today know as Belgravia, Pimlico, Buckingham Palace and Mayfair.
Alexander Davies's 22 year-old widow was quickly married off to one John Tregonwell, "of ancient good familie" to help her manage the estate which at the time produced hardly any income. The new Mrs Tregonwell realised that her daughter was - in the words of her biographer Charles T Gatty - the only heiress she had "for sale" and her eyes alighted on a little known baronet in the north,Sir Thomas Grosvenor who at the time was busy building his family seat, Eaton Hall. Mary, only 12 years old, was duly betrothed to Sir Thomas but only after her mother had bought her out of a prior engagement to Charles Berkeley, aged 10, son of Lord John Berkeley for which Mrs Tregonwell had received £5,000.
The Grosvenors had 20 happy years together until Mary became mentally ill around 1697 and three years later Sir Thomas died. He left behind an estate in which the London end including Belgravia and Mayfair has largely stayed within the family to this day greatly increasing in value each year.