NEWS AND NOTICES
The Life of Mary de Saulles
Sadly Mary passed away on Wednesday 17th of June 2020 at the age of 95 and will be sorely missed and mourned by all those who knew her, especially our long-standing members.
My first meeting with Mary was in 1991 having moved to Shrewsbury a few years earlier. This was around the time I was “press-ganged” into the then-fledgling STCRA by Mary Richards and Joan Tate. I soon learned that Mary was a highly regarded architect, with extraordinarily strong views and a passion for the historic structure of our town.
I subsequently discovered that Mary had also moved to Shrewsbury from London, with her husband Patrick and family in the mid ‘60s’. They set up a home at the bottom of St Mary’s Water Lane in a most unusual house just a few feet from the river, which subsequently survived three major floods. Significantly she was one of only a trio of STCRA members I could visit by boat!
Mary joined the architect’s profession in 1948, one of only 42 women then to do so. She went on to be an architect with London’s County Council and then an industrial designer with British Airways. It was thus not surprising that Mary set up an architectural consultancy in Shrewsbury. In 2012 Mary published a book, The Story of Shrewsbury, which is a most illuminating read.
Very soon after becoming acquainted, I learned that Mary, despite being quite diminutive in stature, shared the tenacity of a mongoose – once she had her teeth into something she simply would not let go; as many in the local authority learned to their dismay! Over decades Mary volunteered her time and expertise to both the Civic Society and the STCRA and rarely missed a gathering of either body.
Together with a very select group of STCRA founder members, it appears that Mary was of “indeterminate vintage” and it was a real shock to discover that she was only a few years away from celebrating her centenary. In fact, until the outbreak of the Coronavirus lockdown, Mary was still working tirelessly at the Civic Society striving to classify and index their very considerable archives. A final labour of love which she completed!
Mary will be sorely missed both as a frequently outspoken pillar of the STCRA and a highly respected resident of Shrewsbury Town Centre.
In March of this year, Mary made a video for RIBA Architecture in which she recorded for posterity how she decided to become an architect at the age of 16, and how she achieved this goal, thus paving the way for women in a male-dominated discipline. This video is posted on YouTube and may be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=QF9SlUIisxw