Roderick Gradidge

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Roderick Gradidge AA Dipl. ARIBA (3 January 1929 – 20 December 2000) was a prominent British architect and writer on architecture, former Master of the Art Workers Guild and campaigner for a traditional architecture.


Biography[edit]

Career[edit]

Roderick was an evangelist for the Arts & Crafts, the Victorian and a Vernacular architecture which had become so unfashionable by the beginning of his career. It is this passion that drove him to his writing career and to become a repository of the knowledge of the architecture of this period and in particular in the County of Surrey (near his home at Chiswick) where so much interesting architecture was produced in this period. Roderick had the opportunity to work on a number of buildings in the county by prominent architects, such as Sir Edwin Lutyens, Harold Falkner, Hugh Thackeray Turner, Detmar Blow and Charles Voysey. He completed a number of interesting projects elsewhere, particularly with fine interiors and country houses. One of his finest country house commissions was for a large extension at Fulbrook House,one of Lutyens's finest and earliest country house commissions outside Farnham, Surrey and which he published in his book, the Surrey Style.[1] He designed a library with David Hicks at Nicholas Hawksmoor's Easton Neston in the style of the English Baroque for Lord Hesketh, a Gothick conservatory at Cholmondeley Castle and altered Mount Stuart for Lord Bute. He worked on a number of pub interiors for Ind Coope, such as the Markham Arms (now altered) on the Kings Road, Chelsea and the Three Greyhounds in Soho, London. He restored the Gothic interior of E. W. Godwin's Northampton Guildhall, and the interior of Bodelwyddan Castle for the National Portrait Gallery, which won the Museum of the Year Award in 1989. At St Marys, Bourne Street, South Kensington and the National Portrait Gallery in London, he also did some interior modifications, although the latter has since been altered. Further notable projects included additions to St Edmund's College, Cambridge (1990-3), Pugin's St Chads, Birmingham and St Augustine, Ramsgate.

He was active in the Art Workers Guild, serving as the Guild's Secretary from 1977–84 and Master in 1987. He was a founding member of the Thirties Society (later to become the 20th Century Society) of which he was a Trustee for many years and was prominent in The Victorian Society, at a time when these were marginal interests within the architectural profession.

Partnership with Michael Blower[edit]

Roderick completed a number of fine restorations and extensions to country houses in Surrey in the 1980s and 1990s. He did these in a loose partnership with the prominent Surrey-based architect, Michael Blower, who had taken over notable Farnham architectural practice AJ & LR Stedman. Their first projects were on Voysey's New House in Haslemere and on Detmar Blow's Charles Hill Court for an Austrian industrialist. From there, they went onto Harold Falkner's Tancreds Ford, which they designed and built for the writer Ken Follett and his first wife, and which was published in two articles in Country Life.[2] Next came The New House, reputedly designed by Hugh Thackeray Turner and for which they jointly won a RIBA Award, which was also published in Country Life.[3] Just prior to his death, they were working on a project at Combe Court, which was completed by Michael Blower and his sons through their architectural practice, Stedman Blower.

Personal life[edit]

Roddy was born 3 January 1929 in Old Hunstanton, Norfolk, and died 20 December 2000 in London, aged 71. H. His father Brigadier John Gradidge, was posted in India at the time of his son's birth, who was then brought up amidst the splendours of the British Raj. He was sent off to Public School at Stowe and from there and after 2 years National Service in the Palestine, he moved to London and the Architectural Association, where he completed his training as an architect and was elected an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects (ARIBA). He remained in London practicing as an architect and writer for most of his life, where he was a prominent figure in social and architectural circles in the last half of the 20th Century. Roddy was an advocate of rational dress, a movement more usually associated with modernists, and had suits tailored in fine cloths that featured jackets and kilts. For much of his life he wore his hair uncut and tied as a plait; he felt cutting it was unnecessary and wasteful of time. He was long-time member of the congregation of the Anglo-Catholic St Mary’s, Bourne Street, Kensington, where his requiem mass was celebrated. On that occasion the priest officiating quipped in his eulogy that it was one of the few occasions he could remember when Roddy was on time for mass. He had no children and was never married.

Legacy[edit]

The Telegraph obituary[4] described him as one of the most colourful and underrated English architects of recent years. Obituaries also appeared in The Times,[5] in The Guardian[6] and in The Independent,[7] the latter one penned by the prominent architectural historian and critic Gavin Stamp. Another heavyweight writer and architectural critic, Kenneth Powell wrote in the late 1980s that Roderick would merit rather more than a footnote when the history of late 20th Century British architecture comes to be written.[8] At the twilight of his career, he was awarded a RIBA Award, (the gold-standard of architectural awards in the UK) for the design of a house in the Surrey Hills, completed with his sometime architectural partner Michael Blower. Perhaps though, his legacy is limited in that he never completed a whole building from scratch and in so far as what remains of his work as an architect are wholly interiors, extensions, alterations and extensions to pre-existing buildings. Fortunately, many of these are Listed Buildings and they will survive as a testament to his career.

Gallery of Gradidges work[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Surrey Style: see bibliography
  2. ^ Country Life 17 & 24 November 1983
  3. ^ Country Life 3 September 1998
  4. ^ The Telegraph Newspaper 22 December 2000
  5. ^ The Times Newspaper 1 January 2001
  6. ^ The Guardian Newspaper 25 February 2001
  7. ^ The Independent Newspaper 2 January 2001
  8. ^ See Obituary in The Independent Newspaper 2 January 2001

Bibliography[edit]

  • Dream Houses: The Edwardian Ideal, by Roderick Gradidge. Constable, 1980 (hardback, ISBN 0-09-461930-1).
  • Edwin Lutyens: Architect Laureate, by Roderick Gradidge. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1981 (hardback, ISBN 0-720023-5).
  • The Surrey Style, by Roderick Gradidge. Kingston: Surrey Historic Buildings Trust, 1991 (paperback, ISBN 0-9517022-0-3).

External links[edit]

  • Obituary [1] in The Telegraph.
  • Obituary [2] in The Guardian by Alan Powers.
  • The Blower Foundation (for cultural connection) is a registered UK Charity devoted to cultural heritage and expression and [3] hold an archive of drawings by Michael Blower and Roderick Gradidge and have an online gallery of buildings by both architects.
  • Stedman Blower Architects [4] hold additional correspondence and detailed information on the projects by Michael Blower and Roderick Gradidge.