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A family affair

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Never mind about Berlin, what about Cambridgeshire? Co-Royal Gold Medallist Dennis Crompton and Betty Crompton were among the guests celebrating the 80th birthday of Mary Banham at her Prickwillow studio near Ely. Also in attendance were her children:

computer guru Ben and mediaevalist Debbie. Grandson and bass guitarist Ollie provided half the musical accompaniment.

The designer of the steel and glass house, Jonathan Ellis Miller, recently sold his own steel and glass house next door. He and his new wife were there with sometime mentor John Winter and wife Valerie. There were other grand dames who had made the long trip north: Evelyn Newby, Monica Pidgeon, Lady Hodgkinson, Lady Stirling and art and architecture young-lioness critics Sasha Craddock and Charlotte Benton. I spotted former RIBA Drawings Collection curator Jill Lever and her husband, architect and landscape designer Jeremy; former Ogle Design guru Tom Karen; and abstract artist Bert Irvine (who is soon to have a Tate retrospective). Legendary photographer John Donat and the Romanian baron George Kasabov were busy helping to establish a microclimate in the new Banham garden on the very edge of the Fens, powered, remarked one very old friend, by some very rarefied hot air.

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