Girouard, Mark (1 of 5) National Life Story Collection: Architects' Lives

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    Interviewee's home, London

  • Interviewees

    Girouard, Mark, 1931 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Thompson, Paul (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: Born London, parents’ house, Upper Berkeley St, 1931. Mother’s family Marquises of Waterford, still living in family seat, Curraghmore, Co. Waterford. Spent many holidays with nearby cousins. Mother’s mother a Fitzmaurice of Lansdowne House. Her sister (Mark’s Aunt Evie) married Duke of Devonshire, lived Chatsworth, then Hardwick. [1:56] In Ireland as child would visit relatives in six or seven country houses. Did not share their enthusiasms for hunting and shooting. Many servants, much food, contrast to wartime England. Describes luxurious teas. [4:34] Before teens did not much notice architecture. Earlier memories of ironwork and painted hall at Chatsworth, when taken from nursery to see adults. Exploring statues in gardens. Fitzmaurices lived in Bowood but had Lansdowne House in London and Irish summer house. At Hardwick nurseries on top floor. Drawing old hall in flames. Family used Hardwick for Christmas. Evie moved in when widowed, c 1937. [8:39] Of grandparents, only knew maternal grandmother. Maternal grandfather had drowned. Paternal grandmother had died when father 8. Knew paternal great-grandmother, South African, had been married to lawyer-politician Sir Richard Solomon. As a widow given grace and favour apartment at Hampton Court, where Mark stayed often. Noticed contrasts between Tudor and Wren parts. [10:46] Early memories of country houses important. Knew how they worked. Little heating, open fires. Grandmother refused to install central heating, immoral. Descries pleasure of bedroom fires. Servants lit all fires. Not to be seen. In morning, footman called you with hot water. Chamberpots until 1950s. Later involvement with Irish Georgian Society. [14:54] Does remember aged 8 impact of beautiful ruins of Kilcooly Abbey, Co. Tipperary, staying with Ponsonbys. First read book on architecture by Frederick Gibberd in nursery. Father liked buildings. Interest developed at school. [17:07] Mother killed in car crash when Mark 8, first term at preparatory school. Would see her for breakfast and tea. Told children stories, built house in woods. Then living in Upper Berkeley St. [19:00] Father whose mother had died in childbirth brought up by grandmother, at Budleigh Salterton and Hampton Court. Winchester, then Christ Church Oxford, law degree. Married Mark’s mother young. Stockbroker, lost much in slump. House rented. Had cook, kitchenmaid, housemaid, nanny and nurserymaid. Very social man, life-enhancer, amusing, but snobbish. Crucial influence. [23:21] Visited buildings together. Early impact of Chichester, 18th century town [aged 13]. At 12, showed Mark Osbert Lancaster. Favoured son over daughters. Women didn’t need university. Close to him. Building with bricks as a child. Celesteville in Baba. At 14 found Sacheverell Sitwell British Architects and Craftsmen in school library. At 16 staying with father’s friend Duke of Wellington, had library of old architectural books, first interested by pattern books; then found more in unopened bookcases at Curraghmore. [28:18] First school Aulsford [1939-44], Catholic Prep School in Sussex, soon evacuated to Ampleforth. Catholicism comes from father’s French Canadian family origins; mother convert. Going to school aged 8 terrible, homesick; then mother killed. Missed funeral and father advised not to visit. Influence of good teacher of English and Maths, Josh Trappes Lomax, interested in architecture. [32:18] From Prep School began walking countryside to visit churches, abbeys, Castle Howard. Reading about houses in headmaster’s study. Visit to Fountains Abbey with Thomas Pakenham and his parents. (34:31) Found Nikolaus Pevsner’s ‘Outline of European Architcture’ fascinating: analytical. Plans seen as designs. Analysis of Bruchsal staircase brought enthusiasm for baroque. [36:05] At Ampleforth [1944-49] teachers not very influential. Liked older parts of building. [38:12] First visit to France with father and older sister, to Collioure. Excited by Dominican church in Toulouse. [39:55] Both sisters have died. Older married diplomat. Younger worked for John Nichol at Yale University Press, then married. Booth went to convent schools and secretarial colleges. [41:24] National Service [1949-51]. Father wanted him to be Guards officer. Officer training at Guards Barracks, Caterham: tormenting, bayonet injury. (43:50) Eaton Hall, hated army side, fascinated by building. Sent to West Africa as officer, 18 months, company commander with 100 black soldiers: Nigeria Regiment, Royal West Africa Frontier Force. One black officer, Duke Bassey. Brilliant sergeant major. Visited Kano, unimpressed by sandcastle architecture. Liked his round thatched hut. [47:27] Christ Church Oxford [1951-5]. Mistake reading Greats, not interested in linguistic philosophy. Classics spoilt by Ampleforth. Should have read History. Lived Meadow Buildings. Bought old Rolls Royce, drove around looking at buildings with Thomas Pakenham (oldest friend, from Ampleforth onwards); also Jeremy Sandford (father had bought Eye Manor), Henrietta Lamb (daughter of painter Henry Lamb), Erkinger Schwarzenberg (Austrian, house in Tuscany), Alain Camus (Belgian), Dominic de Grunne (very social Belgian priest in Oxford). [53:50] Continental holidays: Italy, France, Greece. Walking in Tuscany and Greece (Bassae, Olympia), sleeping rough – few restrictions. With Thomas around Naples, and after finals two months, to Istanbul, Syria and Jordan. Thomas went on to Ethiopia to write book. [57:50] At Oxford lived with Thomas in strange house on Folly Bridge. Brought in some wooden fittings from derelict 18th century Hartwell church. Intrigued by nearby workers’ terraces in St Ebbe’s and Jericho. Visits to Blenheim, Ditchley, broken into Haseley. [1:02:18].

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