LAY, Cecil Howard

1885 - 1956

Cecil Howard Lay

Cecil Howard Lay was born at the Schoolhouse, Aldringham-cum-Thorpe, near Leiston, Suffolk on 30 April 1885, only son of the two children of Aldophus Oscar Lay (12 December 1856-16 January 1942), the village schoolmaster for some 40 years, and his wife Anna Maria née Dove (3 July 1860-24 January 1953), 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 Cecil was given a private tutor followed by the Queen Elizabeth Ipswich School, as a weekly boarder 1898-1904. Cecil wished to become an artist but was articled to architect John Shewell Corder at Ipswich and studied at the Architectural Association School 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 not on 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, 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 and Aldeburgh, including '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 married in 1932, Joan Jessie Chadburn (8 November 1900-18 May 1986), daughter of the painter George Haworthe Chadburn and his wife Mabel Chadburn. Joan was also a talented artist and a children's book illustrator; they had no children. After his marriage, Lay converted two cottages near to 'Raidsend', making them their home at Arch House. Elected a Fellow of the R.I.B.A. in 1925 and in the same year elected a Member of Ipswich Art Club, resigning in 1943, exhibited from Aldringham in 1927 three oil paintings, 'Dawn in the Meadows', 'Morning' and 'Dawn', in 1933 six works 'Theberton, Suffolk', 'Friston, Suffolk', 'Lowestoft, Suffolk', 'Middleton, Suffolk', 'A Stackyard' and 'Aldringham, Suffolk', and was a regular annual exhibitor with his oil 'The Cornfield' on show at the 1974 centenary of the Club. A member of the Sole Bay Group and his work was reproduced in 'The Studio' and 'The Field' and he exhibited at the Grafton Galleries; Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts; London Salon; New English Art Club; Royal Academy; Royal Society of British Artists; Royal Cambrian Academy of Art; Royal Hibernian Academy; Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and the Royal Scottish Academy 1913-1940 from Aldringham. He was also an author of about a dozen volumes of poems. Cecil Lay was of Arch House, Aldringham when he died at the Ipswich & East Suffolk Hospital, Ipswich on 6 February 1956 and buried near his parents in Aldringham churchyard and his wife, who died in Blythburgh & District Hospital on 18 May 1986, aged 85, was buried beside him. He signed his works 'C. H. Lay'.

Royal Academy Exhibits
from Aldringham, Leiston, Suffolk
1931 173 Clothes Pegs
         249 Middleton Green
         260 Parham Park
1933 740 The Carp Pond
         860 The Blue Pond

Works by This Artist