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July 12, 2009

Troup, Francis William (1859-1941)

Francis William Troup was born on 11 June 1859 in the Congregational Manse at Huntly, the son of the Rev Robert Troup and his wife Margaret MacDonald. He was educated in Huntly and in Aberdeen at the Grammar School and what is described in his nomination paper as the Aberdeen Gymnasium. In 1877 he moved to Glasgow as an articled pupil with Campbell Douglas & Sellars and like so many others from that office found a place in the London office of John James Stevenson at £60 per annum. While at Stevenson’s he studied at the RA Schools from 1884 to 1886, winning the Silver Medal for measured drawing in 1885. The subject was the north porch of St Pauls: he seems to have measured it with Robert Weir Schultz who produced an almost identical set of drawings. Through Schultz he obtained an entrée to the newly formed Art Workers’ Guild.

Troup left Stevenson’s office at the end of his articles to undertake short-term employment with a number of architects. His nomination paper lists John McKean Brydon, William Young and George Lethbridge in London and Rowand Anderson in Edinburgh where he worked on the competition drawings for the Imperial Institute with William Henry Bidlake, an engagement which came near to a lawsuit in respect of overtime. Troup then returned to Stevenson’s office as clerk of works at St John’s College Oxford, remaining with him until 1889. Throughout that period Troup travelled and sketched intensively, buying photographs wherever available.

Troup passed the qualifying exam in 1888 and was admitted ARIBA on 11 March 1889, his proposers being Stevenson, Brydon and Douglas. Shortly thereafter he set up office beside W R Lethaby at 9 Hart Street, soon moving to 14 Gray’s Square where he shared rooms with Schultz: shortly thereafter they shared a house at 6 Mandeville Place. During these early years he seems to have been largely dependent on work farmed out by Stevenson (part of which consisted of interiors for the Orient Line steamship Omrah), Schultz, Lethaby and Lorimer. This persisted until Troup obtained the commission for his largest and best country house Sandhouse for the Congregationalist Joseph King in 1902. Thereafter Troup’s practice was reasonably prosperous, punctuated by a small number of really large jobs, Thistlegate House, Charmouth, Dorset in 1911, Blackfriars House, New Bridge Street, London in 1913, Cambridge University Press in 1920 and from 1921 the Bank of England where his scheme was superseded by that of Sir Herbert Baker. In that year he entered into a partnership with Harold Rooksby Steele which lasted until February 1941 when Troup retired. Also in the practice was his nephew Robert Jamieson Troup, son of his farmer brother Robert, who had served in the Gordon Highlanders and ended the war with serious health and psychological problems. He withdrew from the practice in 1936 to return to Huntly where he had a desultory architectural practice.

Troup was an Arts and Crafts man throughout his life with a particular interest in leadwork and was an excellent craftsman himself. He was Master of the Art Workers Guild in 1923 and Hon Sec of the SPAB in 1940. He never married, living with a long-serving housekeeper, Elizabeth Green. He is said to have been rather shy but among his friends and particularly with children he was hilarious company, retaining his Aberdeenshire accent to the end. He died suddenly at Mandeville Place on 2 April 1941.

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