Mr and Mrs Basil Ionides

From the Dictionary of Scottish Architects:

Basil Ionides was born on 20 June 1884, the fourth son of Luke A Ionides, who was a friend of Burne-Jones, and grandson of the Greek ambassador to London. He may have come from the Manchester textile family of that name. He was educated at Tonbridge School and studied at Glasgow School of Art 1900-1903 whilst serving his articles with Alexander Nisbet Paterson. The double villa in Winton Drive, Glasgow was designed when he was only eighteen and barely halfway through his apprenticeship. On completion of his apprenticeship in 1904 or 1905 he moved to London where he joined the office of Leonard Stokes, subsequently spending a short time with Harold Ainsworth Peto before commencing independent practice in 1908 at Hadlow Down and designing a number of houses in various English counties.

During the First World War he served in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, and received a commission but relinquished it as he did not like giving orders to more experienced men and returned later as an ordinary seaman. He was disabled in 1917 and continued to practise, initially mainly carrying out interior work. He became an important Art Deco designer, architect of the Savoy Theatre in London with Frank A Tugwell in 1939-30, and of Claridge’s Restaurant. Ionides was also the author of ‘Colour and Interior Decoration’ (1926) and ‘Colour in Everyday Rooms’ (1934). Ionides married the Hon Mrs W H Levy, daughter of the First Viscount Bearsted shortly after Levy died in 1923. They acquired Buxted Park in 1931 and were important collectors of works of art; their London address in the 1930s was 49 Berkeley, Square, a house Ionides altered for himself. Buxted Park was burnt down during or just after the Second World War and the Ionides lost much of their collection which had been moved there to safekeeping during the blitz.

Ionides was admitted LRIBA on 11 May 1931, his proposers being Howard Robertson, George Grey Wornum and Maurice Everett Webb. He was elevated to Fellow on 5 December 1938, proposed by Albert Edward Richardson, Charles Herbert Reilly and Walker Hindes Godfrey.

Ionides died in Brighton on 28 September 1950.”

From the website of the Orleans House Gallery:

“Mrs. Nellie Ionides (1883-1962) was the daughter of Sir Marcus Samuel, 1st Viscount Bearsted and later Lord Mayor of London. Born in 1883 into a life of privilege, she was descended from an East End Jewish family. Her family made its fortune through trade and oil. They established Shell Transport at the time when the motor car was a novel invention.

Nellie married Walter Levy who distinguished himself in the First World War and won the DSO. In 1923 he died from the effects of the trenches. Nellie later married Basil Ionides the pioneering Art Deco designer. From 1931, they lived in great style at Buxted Park in Sussex and at Riverside House in Twickenham. Both shared a love of the arts and collecting. Nellie started collecting autographs in her teens and this graduated onto paintings, porcelain, enamel snuff boxes and Meissen figures.

She bequeathed her collection of topographical paintings to the borough (of Twickenham) and in addition collected conversation pieces and dog pictures (many of which were donated to the Kennel Club in London). Nellie amassed a remarkable collection of local topographical views from the 18th and 19th centuries, which depict the many important properties within the borough, as well as gardens and the natural landscapes including the famed view (see image) from Richmond Hill.”

From Wikipedia:

“The Honourable Nellie Ionides (born Nellie Samuel; 1883 – 15 November 1962) was an English collector, connoisseur and philanthropist. She is best known for saving the 18th-century Octagon Room at Orleans House in Twickenham from destruction, and for donating this and also many pieces from her extensive art collection to the local council (now the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames).

Her first husband was Major Walter Henry Levy, who died in 1923. They had four children together: John Henry Levy (born 1910); Mary Violet Levy; Winifred May Levy, who married Richard Frederick Jessel in 1926 – their son Toby Jessel was the Member of Parliament for Twickenham from 1970 to 1997; and Vivien Levy, who married the writer and broadcaster Robert Henriques.

In 1930 she met the architect Basil Ionides while he was decorating her residence at 49 Berkeley Square West. They married later that year and had one child, Adam, who died aged nine.

In 1926, a firm of gravel merchants bought Orleans House and its surrounding grounds and demolished the main house. Nellie Ionides purchased the adjoining 1721 Octagon Room designed by James Gibbs, and the stables buildings, saving them from destruction. The Octagon Room and its service wing are now listed Grade I by Historic England.

Nellie Ionides died on 15 November 1962 and is buried at Golders Green Jewish Cemetery, as is her first husband, Walter Henry Levy. On her death, the Municipal Borough of Twickenham – which was absorbed three years later into the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames – was bequeathed the Octagon Room, its surrounding buildings (now the Orleans House Gallery) and the grounds of Orleans House, together with Nellie Ionides’ art collection of local topographical views.”

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