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a life in architecture - lady st oswald

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'I was born in a Georgian house, always lived in them, and have retired to one. I love them, 'says the Dowager Lady St Oswald.

Before her husband died in 1999, she lived for 15 years in a stately home in West Yorkshire, Nostell Priory. Before that they owned 'a perfect example of Georgian domestic architecture' in East Yorkshire, from where she frequently visited Nostell. 'I used to copy the birds on the Chinese wallpaper, and made my own wallpaper with the drawings. When I left the house, I wrote a note to the new owners: 'If this paper is destroyed, I will haunt you.'' Lady St Oswald now lives in Ludlow (below), in a property that is 'pure Georgian - 1756', in a street that Pevsner called 'one of the loveliest in England'. Fireplaces had to be uncovered to reveal the original grates. 'The only modern thing I left in was a lift.'

She loves the old part of Ludlow - the castle and Castle Square, the 18th century town hall and Mill Street. But she is engaged in a protest against a proposed glassand-steel restaurant for Castle Square: 'The materials and atmosphere are all wrong. It would not be architecturally harmonious.'

She has written to the press and to the civic society, which approved the plans. The project is now on hold and the architect has been asked to rethink the design. 'I am not against modern architecture, but it has to blend with its surroundings.'she says. 'Such a building would injure Ludlow, and would not help the tourist trade on which it so depends.'

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