Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe – a Blue Plaque for a landscape architecture but not for Susan

English Heritage Blue Plaque Scheme marks the dwellings of famous Londoners with Blue Plaques. Only one landscape architect has been honoured in this way. It is Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe. Famed for his design projects, his books and his role in founding the International Federation of Landscape Architects in 1948, the honour is well deserved. It is however regrettable that the family’s suggested inclusion of his wife’s name on the plaque was not acted upon. Married to each other and to landscape architecture, they were partners in every sense. Susan was an extremely capable woman who worked with Geoffrey on all his schemes. A friend told me that Geoffrey was vague about the difference between deciduous and coniferous plants. Susan did all his planting design and edited his books. Her contribution to the Landscape of man was even more significant: she took most of the photographs herself, did the picture research for the other photographs – and probably wrote the captions. We should also remember that the International Federation of Landscape Architects might not have been founded but for her linguistic skills. If English Heritage was not overtly sexist, it was less than generous in its decision to leave Susan’s name off the Blue Plaque. The Blue Plaque on 19 Grove Terrace, Dartmouth Park, NW5 IPH, reads: “Sir GEOFFREY JELLICOE 1900-1996 Landscape Architect lived here 1936-1984”

7 thoughts on “Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe – a Blue Plaque for a landscape architecture but not for Susan

  1. annabel downs

    Geoffrey Jellicoe is also best know in the UK as one of the founder members of the Institute of Landscape Architects [subsequently renamed Landscape Institute]

    The former LI library and Archive supported the application to include Susan Jellicoe and a statement was submitted to support this including Dame Sylvia Crowe PPILA statement that Susan Jellicoe’s photographic library ‘compiled by one who combined insight with technical skill forms a priceless contribution to landscape archives and libraries’, tribute to SJ in 1986. Including many of the points you raise Tom, our conclusion to EH was that while Geoffrey Jellicoe received international recognition for his work and his contribution to landscape architecture, Susan Jellicoe’s contribution however has long been overshadowed by people other than him.

    the response from EH blue plaque coordinator:

    The Blue Plaques Panel considered a report on Susan Jellicoe at their February 2008 meeting. The Panel was interested to hear of the achievements of Susan Jellicoe, and supported the principle that, where relevant, plaques should commemorate both husband and wife. However, in order for joint plaques to be awarded, both figures must be shown to be of equal significance; this was the case, for instance, with the Surrealist Roland Penrose and the photographer Lee Miller, and with Leonard and Virginia Woolf. With regard to the Jellicoes, the Panel felt that Sir Geoffrey was undoubtedly the primary force in the partnership, and that this should be reflected in the inscription of the plaque. I am sorry for any disappointment this news may cause.

  2. Tom Turner Post author

    Annabel, many thanks for the information, but I think English Heritage were wrong. Do they know more than Geoffrey’s friends and family about this partnership with Susan? No.

  3. Lynda Harris

    Thanks Tom & Annabel for your comments. I personally believe that Susan’s contribution to Landscape Architecture was enormous, not only her imput into the many projects & books she worked on jointly with Geoffrey but also in her work at the Landscape Institute, editing the magazine and her work spreading knowledge about the relatively new profession both at a national and international level. The current Landscape Institute is built on these foundations. She lived at a time when it was far more difficult for women to gain formal recognition for their work through education, membership of professional bodies and formal awards. I think it is because of this that English Heritage did not properly take into consideration her vital part in their professional partnership. I am glad that there are still people today who recognise the importance of her contribution.

  4. Tom Turner Post author

    Thank you Lynda, I had forgotten about Landscape Design. She was the mainstay for many years and the quality was very much higher when she did the work as a volunteer than it has been since the LI started paying for editorial services. As they say, you get more for love than you get for money.

  5. Christine

    Perhaps if the plaque read “Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe…lived here with his wife and collaborator, Susan…” it would have covered the bases of contribution and significance?

  6. Tom Turner Post author

    I think Geoffrey told us how he saw things on the front cover of the book which made them famous It surprised me when I first saw both their names on the cover, in 1974, but when I met them I understood the reason. In fact Susan made most of the conversation when talking to them both about landscape architecture!


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