Esher, Lionel Gordon Baliol Brett. (1 of 13). National Life Story Collection: Architects' Lives

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    Interviewee's home, Oxford, UK

  • Interviewees

    Esher, Lionel Gordon Baliol Brett, 1913-2004 (speaker, male, interviewee)

  • Interviewers

    Brodie, Louise, (speaker, female, interviewer)

  • Abstract

    Part 1. Chose to become an architect though destined for politics or the diplomatic corps. At Oxford met Tristram Edwards, interested in slums of Northern cities and their housing problems. From this came decision to become an architect, never did neo-Georgian work. Took on difficult work due to vanity and sense of duty. Architects had no prestige in England - LE saw himself as a doctor of the environment, New Towns etc. Friend of Ellis Clough, Patrick Abercrombie, Thomas Sharpe. Wrote reviews for Architects Journal. Parents involved in National Trust and environmental bodies. Did drawings in Italy, his interest in buildings, especially French cathedrals. Left Oxford, did one term at AA, very low grade training. Took RIBA external exams, tried Oliver Hill's practice then AFG Butler, pupil of Lutyens. Latter deeply traditional, very good training. Designed colonial style house for parents. Developed eye problems, diagnosed with TB, went to Switzerland to eye specialist. Climbed mountains, lived in chalet, had two children. Built house in St John's Wood. Joined William and Eileen Patton-Brown practice, 100% modernist, partnership inn 1937. Talks about paternal uncle, Morris and aunt, Dorothy Brett, friend of Carrington, Otaline Morrell circle. Second aunt became Ranee of Sarawak.

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Interesting comments on the view of well-off southerners towards the north of England: a black, horrific place that was simply to be travelled through when on the way to the Highlands of Scotland

Posted by Alastair Dunning, King''s College London on 17/06/2009 17:17:00