MASON, Hilda Frances

1879 - 1955

Born at Ipswich on 17 June 1879, daughter of Frank William Mason, a cement & timber merchant, and his wife Bertha née Turner [q.v.]. One of the very few lady architects of the 1920's and an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects and, as an architect, experimented with concrete which was a pre-war Arts and Crafts adventure, but it became a hallmark of modernism. St Andrew's Church in Felixstowe (1929-1931) was designed in reinforced concrete by Hilda Mason in collaboration with Raymond Erith. This unexpected building got a rough ride from the Church Commissioners' architects, but 'Architectural Review' supported St Andrew's as a 'brave experiment that has the merit of combining structural sincerity with a genuine English feeling.' Hilda Mason anticipated that a connection with Perrett's concrete Church of Notre Dame, Le Raincy (1922-3) was, and is, inevitable. She feared that this would increase the unpopularity of her own church by association with architecture which was too innovative, foreign and Catholic. Hilda Mason's other major work was completely modernist, Kings Knoll, 1933, Woodbridge, a house for herself in the International Style. A member of the Ipswich Art Club 1907-1939 and exhibited from 'Northcliff', Maybush Lane, Felixstowe, Suffolk in 1912 three watercolours, two entitled 'Josselin, Brittany' and another 'Glen Urquhart, Scotland' the following year she exhibited 'Tudor House, Ashby St Ledgers (from Carr Street, Ipswich)' and 'Tangier' and in 1911 four watercolours 'Lissa', 'Beneval, France', 'Curzola' and a regular exhibitor including in 1925 a design for a poster 'Castle Combe, near Bath' and in 1926 a watercolour 'Flowers'. In 1939 an architect living at Kings Knoll, Woodbridge, Suffolk with her unmarried sister Elfrida (born 18 November 1891-). She died at Ipswich in 1955, aged 74, she was unmarried.