Maufe [formerly Muff], Sir Edward Brantwood (1882–1974), architect
by Margaret Richardson, rev.

Maufe [formerly Muff], Sir Edward Brantwood (1882–1974), architect, was born at Sunny Bank, Ilkley, Yorkshire, on 12 December 1882, the second of three children and younger son of Henry Muff, linen draper, a member of Lloyds and of the firm Brown, Muff & Co. Ltd, and his wife, Maude Alice Smithies, who was the niece of Sir Titus Salt, the founder of Saltaire. Muff was educated at Wharfedale School, Ilkley, but was sent in 1899 to serve a five-year pupillage with the London architect William A. Pite. His family had moved south to live in the former home of William Morris, Red House, Bexleyheath, designed by Philip Webb, which Muff acknowledged as an early architectural influence. In 1904 Muff took an unusual step, for a student in the middle of his training, and went up to St John's College, Oxford, where he obtained a BA (pass degree) in 1908. In August 1909 he changed his surname by deed poll from Muff to Maufe. When he went down, Maufe worked hard for his final examination, and attended the design class at the Architectural Association school. He became an associate member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in 1910. That same year on 1 October he married Gladys Evelyn Prudence (1882/3–1976), daughter of Edward Stutchbury of the geological survey of India. She was a designer and interior decorator, and later a director of Heal's. They had one son, who died in 1968. Maufe was tall and handsome while his wife was beautiful and always romantically dressed; together they were much admired.

Maufe immediately set up in practice on his own and in 1912 received his first large commission—Kelling Hall in Norfolk for Henri Deterding. This building shows Maufe's early links with the arts and crafts movement; it has a butterfly plan, knapped flint walls, and a grey tiled and gabled roof. His other chief pre-war work was the decoration of St Martin-in-the-Fields and chapels and alterations at All Saints, Southampton, and St John, Hackney, which first brought him into notice in church circles.

During the First World War, Maufe served as staff lieutenant in the Royal Artillery in Salonika. He became a fellow of the RIBA in 1920, and first became prominent in 1924 with his design for the palace of industry at the Wembley Exhibition. He was a silver medallist at the Paris Exhibition of 1925 and began to secure a wide variety of commissions. Two buildings, particularly, made his name among architects: the church of St Bede at Clapham (1922–3) and St Saviour's, Acton (1924–6), both for the Royal Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb. The latter church was particularly admired for its simplification of form and for its affinities with contemporary Swedish architecture—for example, Ivar Tengbom's Hogalids church in Stockholm, which for Maufe was ‘the most completely satisfying modern Swedish building’ he had seen. At this period Maufe was a constant champion of modern Swedish architecture, and often wrote on this theme in the architectural press; his own buildings, with their reticent and simplified elevations, painted ceilings, and applied sculpture, show this influence. Maufe felt that Swedish architecture ‘combined freshness without obviously breaking with tradition’.

Maufe's domestic work had a stylish modernity, in direct contrast with the new functionalism. In the architectural language of the time it was called ‘modernity with manners’ and very much reflected the established taste of the inter-war period. Maufe wrote and lectured a good deal: on ‘furnishing and decorating the home’, on furniture, and on present-day architecture. His interiors were very stylish, with built-in fitments and pastel colour-schemes, particularly pink, mauve, and cream, contrasted with silver-lacquered furniture and mirrors. One of his best houses was Yaffle Hill, Broadstone, Dorset, built in 1929 for Cyril Carter of Poole Potteries; other schemes included an extension to Baylins, Beaconsfield (1927), for Ambrose Heal, Hanah Gluck's studio in Bolton Hill, Hampstead (1932), and the studio for religious services at Broadcasting House (1931). He also designed several branch banks for Lloyds, one of the best being 50 Notting Hill Gate (1930). His own residence was a farmhouse he restored in the late 1920s at Shepherd's Hill, Buxted, Sussex.

In 1932 Maufe won the competition for the new Guildford Cathedral. When the building was dedicated in 1961, taste had moved away from its neo-Gothic exterior but the splendid proportions of the nave and aisles and, in particular, Maufe's masterly use of space won general admiration. His design carried the simplification of Gothic still further than the Liverpool Cathedral of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and his own earlier work. Maufe has been called ‘a designer of churches by conviction’: he attempted to produce buildings of austere simplicity aiming directly at the creation of a religious atmosphere. At Guildford he also wanted ‘to produce a design definitely of our time, yet in the line of the great English cathedrals, to build anew on tradition’.

Later works by Maufe include buildings for Trinity and St John's colleges, Cambridge, and Balliol and St John's colleges, Oxford (of which he was made an honorary fellow in 1943), the Festival Theatre at Cambridge, the Playhouse at Oxford, and the rebuilding, in the late 1940s and 1950s, in a scholarly neo-Georgian style, of the war-damaged Middle Temple and of Gray's Inn, which made him an honorary master of the bench in 1951.

From 1943 until 1969 Maufe was first principal architect UK and then chief architect and artistic adviser to the Imperial (later Commonwealth) War Graves Commission. Among his many designs for memorials are those at Tower Hill (an extension to the mercantile marine memorial by Sir Edwin Lutyens), the RAF record cloister and Canadian record building, and the RAF memorial at Cooper's Hill at Runnymede (1950–53). He was much honoured. He was elected ARA in 1938, RA in 1947, and served as treasurer from 1954 to 1959. From 1946 to 1953 he was a member of the Royal Fine Arts Commission. In 1944 he received the royal gold medal for architecture and he was knighted in 1954 for his services to the War Graves Commission.

Although Maufe was a traditionalist and admired Lutyens above all his contemporaries, he was always open-minded. His own work, particularly before the Second World War, took a middle course of well-mannered modernity without the grammar of classicism.

Maufe died on 12 December 1974, his ninety-second birthday, in Uckfield Hospital. His architectural drawings and correspondence were deposited at the RIBA.

MARGARET RICHARDSON, rev.

Sources  

The Times (14 Dec 1974) · The Times (28 Dec 1974) · Building, 227 (1974) · Architect's Journal (8 Jan 1975) · J. Cornforth, ‘Shepherd's Hill’, Country Life, 158 (1975), 906–9 · Maufe, correspondence, writings, and press cuttings, RIBA BAL · private information (1986) · b. cert. · m. cert. · d. cert.

Archives  

RIBA, corresp., writings, and press cuttings · University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Van Pett Library, corresp. and papers |  Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Maidenhead, papers relating to work for Imperial War Graves Commission


Likenesses  

W. Stoneman, photograph, 1950, NPG · J. L. Wheatley, oils, c.1956, NPG · H. Coster, photograph, NPG · photographs, RIBA

Wealth at death  

£91,585: probate, 10 June 1975, CGPLA Eng. & Wales


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Sir Edward Brantwood Maufe (1882–1974): doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/31429