For some 20 years John Gregory had been the guardian of Georgian House in Bury Street, home to many distinguished residents, art connoisseurs and dealers. He was always welcoming, a friendly face to be seen daily shuffling his way through the enclaves of art-mongers, peers of the realm and Georgian House’s international tenants.
John was much loved by most, always there to assist with any request large or small; if he didn’t have the answer he always knew someone who did. With a customary cigarette hanging from his lips he always had time to chat, catch up on the local gossip, offer his help whenever he could. He was a fixer who knew where the bodies were buried.
John never moved too far from the boundaries of St James’s and enjoyed the local social life very much, dividing his time between the two famous pubs, The Chequers, Duke Street, and Crown Passage’s Red Lion. Always dressed immaculately, he could be found at the bar enjoying the company of others with a pint of London Pride, discussing any topic of the moment.
His breakfast at the weekend was at 45 Jermyn Street. His passions were Arsenal and Lord’s Cricket Ground; he liked his politics and history, and loved his art. All workers, gallerists, art handlers and young aspiring Christie’s auctioneers would be enthralled to sit with him and hear his stories.
John would listen to what you had to say and take a true interest. He could make you feel special.
‘Grit and determination’
John passed away at 79 after a short illness he couldn’t defeat. Seemingly constantly riddled with ailments, he refused to let them take over his life. He had fought each one off with grit and determination. He had smashed cancer, survived at least three heart attacks and lost a couple of toes.
A medical phenomenon, his powers of survival were well noted, so much so that he was the subject of an article in the Lancet.
John is survived by his ex-wife Anne, children Neil and Sarah, and his four beloved grandchildren Isla, Lucy, Freddie and Archie. A father, grandfather, mentor and a much treasured friend, St James’s will never see his like again.
A memorial will be held at 2pm on February 17 at St James’s Church, Piccadilly.
By Nick Finch
Christie’s, King Street, St James’s