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Giles Worsley

Architectural writer, critic and nephew of the Duchess of Kent THE funeral took place in Hovingham, North Yorkshire, on Thursday of Giles Worsley, second son of Sir Marcus and the late Lady Worsley, of Hovingham Hall.

Giles, who was 44, was working until shortly before his death from cancer on January 17.

He had spent most of his life in London, away from his childhood home.

The Worsleys have lived in Hovingham for over four centuries, taking their name from the village of Worsley, now part of Greater Manch-ester. Giles moved to the hall at 12, when his father inherited the title and estate, which today is 3,000 acres.

His father was MP for Keighley and then for Chel-sea and also Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire. His mother, Bridget Assheton, was the daughter of the first Lord Clitheroe, of Downham Hall, Lancashire, Financial Secretary to the Treasury. Giles's aunt, Katharine Worsley, is the Duchess of Kent.

After Eton College and New College, Oxford, where he studied history, Giles Arthington Worsley had a distinguished career as an architectural writer.

His ancestor, Thomas Worsley, designed and built the Palladian Hovingham Hall in the mid-18th century on the northern edge of the Howardian Hills. Thomas was passionate about horses and contrived the entrance to the mansion through the riding school, a piece of unique country-house planning.

The cricket pitch – in use before 1858 on the lawn in front of the house – is the oldest privately owned ground and is still used by local players. The fourth baronet, Sir William Worsley, captained Yorkshire in 1928-29 in the heyday of gentleman players.

Giles's childhood years at Hovingham focused him on something beyond gentrified rural pursuits. His "great love was the architecture and history of the house," said his elder brother, William, with whom he stayed on regular visits to Yorkshire.

The equine relationship with it intrigued Giles and he took a doctorate at the Courtauld Institute on the history of stables. In 2004 this research was published as The British Stable.

His four other books on architecture include Classical Architecture in Britain: The Heroic Age, which won the Yorkshire Post prize in 1995 for the year's best arts book. In 2002 England's Lost Houses created tremendous interest and its associated exhibition was the most popular thus far held at London's Soane Museum.

He joined the magazine Country Life in 1985 and was architectural editor from 1989. In 1994 he became editor of Perspectives on Architecture, the magazine of the Prince of Wales's Institute of Architecture, and after it closed in 1998 architecture critic on the Daily Telegraph.

He was on the committee of the Georgian Group and served on many bodies, including the Royal Fine Art Commission and the executive committee of Save Britain's Heritage.

A lecture on Chiswick House earlier this month was delivered with his usual authority and wit.

His sixth book Inigo Jones and the European Classicist Tradition will be published in June. He also left an almost complete manuscript for a book on English baroque architecture.

Giles is survived by his widow, the writer Joanna Pitman, their daughters Alice, Emma and Lucy, his father, Marcus, brothers William and Peter and sister, Sarah Elwes. His mother died from cancer in 2004.

A service to celebrate his life will be held in London on March 9.

 
 
 

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