Remembering Lionel Stirgess (BArch1955, MCD 1956)

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Lionel Stirgess (BArch1955, MCD 1956)

The University were saddened to hear that our valued alumnus, and talented architect, Lionel Stirgess (BArch1955, MCD 1956) had sadly passed away aged 89 in September 2022. Lionel leaves behind his ever-loving partner Craig, and beloved pet dachshunds, Maximus and Minimus. Craig kindly shares Lionel’s story, along with his own hope to carry on Lionel’s legacy.

Lionel Stirgess’ story began on 22 November 1932, on the outskirts of Sheffield where he grew up and took great pleasure in visiting the nearby gardens at Chatsworth. The beauty of Chatsworth resonated with Lionel and would inspire his flair for design later in life. 

"As a young boy I went to Chatsworth. It is a major garden and I really thought a garden is not a garden without fountains. There are a lot of influences from India, as well." (Lionel Stirgess,2005)

In 1955, Lionel graduated from the University of Liverpool’s School of Architecture, having attained a first-class degree with honours, and in 1956 attained a Masters in Civic Design. Lionel was proud to have attend the University noting it as the first university School of Architecture to design and run Royal Institute of British Architects accredited degrees, with an excellent reputation.  

As a first-year student Lionel was taught in the academic architectural style of the Beaux Arts in France, which drew upon elements made up from French neoclassicism, Renaissance and Baroque influences.  Lionel learned how to skilfully draw classical buildings, whilst witnessing the post-war shift from classical principles of architectural design towards modernism.

Lionel’s admiration of Ludwig Miles Van der Roche, a pioneer of Modernism, influenced his design and development of a suite of offices in the City of London, where he ran his own architectural practice for many years.  He also imaginatively refurbished the auctioneers Sotheby’s in Bond Street, renovated and restored Doric Villa - an original villa on the outer circle of Regents Park and constructed a new Palladian inspired villa, which stands in Avenue Road (due north of Regents Park). Drawings produced by Lionel’s practice are now housed in the RIBA drawings collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum. 

Retirement did not stop Lionel from fulfilling his passion for design and he undertook a number of projects in Suffolk including purchasing and renovating a house in Newmarket.  The property was historically owned by actress Lillie Langtry (1853 -1929), who was also associated with Prince Edward (later Edward VII). 

Together with his life-partner Craig, they opened their gardens at the Porter's Lodge in Cavenham, once a year to support local charitable causes. Their beautiful garden brought joy to visitors as they took in its fountains, ponds, pavilion and unique water organ all framed by a mature woodland. It will come as no surprise that in 2004, Lionel's garden was a winning entry in ITV's Britain's Best Back Gardens.   

Lionel’s gift and passion for design and architecture will be his lasting legacy, and we are forever appreciative that he fondly remembered the University of Liverpool in his Will.  His gift to the School of Architecture will be used as he wished to enhance students’ lives at Liverpool and upholding the School of Architecture’s reputation as a centre of excellence for many years to come.

Are you inspired to give in memory of a loved one, or considering remembering the University of Liverpool in your Will? For more information email: or get in touch via our contact form.


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