Philip Mainwaring Johnston by Ian McInnes
Strictly speaking, Philip Mainwaring Johnston (1865-1936) should not appear in a series of articles on architects who lived or worked in Dulwich, as he lived just off the southern edge of the Estate in Camberwell - on de Crespigny Park (from 1907) and at Sussex Lodge on Champion Hill (now No. 42 ) from 1914. The latter was one of two pairs of semi-detached houses that he designed and built in the arts and crafts style. All four houses remain and are perhaps the best example of the arts and crafts style in the local area. His other connection with the area was that he was articled to John Belcher, whose life was covered in the issue for Summer 2006, who lived just down the road at Redholme, at the rear of the Fox on the Hill pub.
Johnston studied at Kings College under Professor Delamotte and undertook many sketching trips in England and on the Continent &endash; an important part of every architect's education at that time. On completion of his articles with Belcher in 1886, he commenced practice on his own and became particularly well known for restoration work on old churches and small country houses in Surrey and Sussex. He also designed several new buildings, mainly in the Home Counties, including churches, houses, vicarages and model cottages and 24 WW1 war memorials. He was diocesan architect to Chichester Cathedral and architect to the Stratford-on-Avon Preservation Trust.
His publications included three volumes on 'The Churches of Sussex', 'A Schedule of Surrey Antiquities', 'Church Chests and Doors' and a vast number of articles in the Royal Archaeological Institute's Journal, the Sussex Archaeological Collections, the Surrey Archaeological Collections and the Transactions of the St Paul's Ecclesiological Society. He was also a major contributor to the Victoria Histories of Sussex and Surrey.
He was vice-president of the British Archaeological Association and the Surrey Archaeological Society and was particularly well known as an expert in the preservation of ancient wall paintings. One of his most important projects was the restoration, on behalf of the V & A, of a mid sixteenth century room in a house on Carfax near Oxford, and he did similar work at Jesus College in Oxford.
His daughter was the well-known interwar actress, Thea Holme (1904-80). She made her first stage appearance in 1924 but her reputation was made in the 1930s in Oxford where she was in repertory at the Oxford Playhouse, her husband, Stanford Holme, being the producer &endash; the well known cookery writer, Elizabeth David was also an assistant stage manager at the theatre and, allegedly, Stanford Holmes mistress for two years. Her Times obituary noted 'hard indeed of heart was the undergraduate who did not fall madly in love with this most elegant beauty with the wondering eyes'. It appears that the Holmes were prepared to experiment with new plays, by known or unknown authors, but would also put on pantomime as well as the classics. During the war she toured with CEMA (The Council for the encouragement of Music and the Arts) and afterwards lived in Thomas Carlyle's house in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, where her husband was curator. She wrote several books, the best known of which was' The Carlyles at Home