LAY, Cecil Howard

1885 - 1956

Cecil Howard Lay

Born at the Schoolhouse, Aldringham-cum-Thorpe, near Leiston, Suffolk on 3 April 1885, son of Aldophus Oscar Lay, the village schoolmaster for some 40 years, and his wife Anna Maria née Dove, who married at Fulham, London in 1881. His father who was competent at drawing, discouraged his son from mixing socially with the children of the village school, and was given a private tutor and was next sent to the Ipswich School, as a weekly boarder (1898-1904). Wishing to become an artist but was articled to architect John Shewell Corder [q.v.] at Ipswich and studied at the Architectural Association in London 1907-1911, being elected an associate of Royal Institute of British Architects in 1912 when he set up his own practice. A self taught painter and writer, he travelled in Belgium and Holland, studying painting, and became a close friend of Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956) also corresponded with American poet Ezra Pound (1885-1972). Although he wasn't in active service, the Great War shocked and horrified Lay and following a nervous breakdown he returned to Suffolk, rarely leaving the county again. As an architect he designed a series of innovative buildings, mainly large private dwellings, incorporating motifs from traditional Suffolk architecture in ways which were modern for their time. Most of these buildings are in the neighbourhood of Aldringham or Aldeburgh, including a house named 'Raidsend' at Aldringham, a hall of late Art Nouveau style, with 'elongated Dutch gables, tall narrow windows and subtle pargetting' which he designed for his mother. Cecil Lay married in 1932, Joan Jessie Chadburn, daughter of the painter George Haworthe Chadburn [q.v.] who was also a talented artist and children's book illustrator, they had no children. After his marriage Lay converted two cottages near to 'Raidsend' making their home at Arch House in Aldringham. Elected Fellow of the R.I.B.A. in 1925 and in the same year elected a Member of Ipswich Art Club which he resigned in 1943 and exhibited from Aldringham in 1927 three oil paintings 'Dawn in the Meadows', 'Morning' and 'Dawn' and his oil 'The Cornfield' was on show at the 1974 centenary of the Club. A member of the 'Sole Bay Group' and his work was reporduced in 'The Studio' and 'The Field' and also exhibited at Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts; London Salon; New English Art Club; Royal Academy; Royal Society of British Artists; Royal Cambrian Academy; Royal Hibernian Academy; Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colour and the Royal Scottish Academy 1913-1940 from Aldringham, Leiston, Suffolk. He was also an author of about a dozen volumes of poems. Cecil Lay died on 6 February 1956 and buried near his parents in Aldringham churchyard and his wife, who died on 18 May 1980, aged 95, was buried beside him




Works by This Painter