Janet Locke 1928 – 2020

It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of our friend and fellow Scholar Janet Locke. With thanks to Hannah Reynolds, we offer the following words in tribute and further details below.

2008, Janet Locke at Goldsmiths Hall, Insall’s 50th Anniversary. Image by Charlie Hopkinson for DIA

In an interview conducted in 2016 Janet noted that her interest in architecture, and in particular historic buildings, had been sparked by an Elizabethan hunting lodge close to her childhood home. She recalled also having seen the architectural drawings when her parents built their own home in 1938.  In the late 1940’s Janet went on to study at Bartlett School of Architecture, where she was one of 5 women in a 60 strong cohort. Here, in culmination of her 5 year architecture degree, Janet’s final thesis indulged her passion for historic buildings and lead her to cycle around Essex investigating vernacular architecture and pargetting. 

Janet recalled having seen the SPAB Lethaby Scholarship programme advertised and, thinking “it might be interesting”. Having been founded in 1930, the SPAB Scholarship resumed in 1950, after a brief interlude during the War. Janet (then Furney) was one of five young architects to undertake the Scholarship in that year and one of the first two females to be admitted. Her contemporaries were Donald Insall, Pamela Cunnington, Cecil Searle and Peter Locke, whom she would later marry.

1950 Lethaby Scholars. Donald Insall, Peter Locke, Janet Furney, Pamela Cunnington. SPAB Archive

It was Monica Dance who first introduced Janet to Peter in the upstairs room at 55 Great Ormond Street, and was later accused of running the SPAB as a matrimonial agency. Monica became Godmother to their son, Christopher.

Janet recalled her second meeting with Peter involving them mixing lime mortar together at a church visit, the visits always being very hands-on. With a bursary of just £60, the scholars were self proclaimed ‘LHU’s’, “Lethabite Hard Up”.  Left to their own devices to arrive at the correct venue, as instructed by brief telephone call or telegram, the Scholars used public transport or often bicycles, but were sometimes given lifts by visiting architects.

Janet and Peter’s relationship blossomed during their time as Scholars and they were married in 1952. Those that knew Janet and Peter recall how they were devoted to one another, providing balance, yet sparking each other’s enthusiasm and interests. 

Janet and Peter, Insall’s offices, West Eaton Place. Image by Donald Insall
1999 , Janet and Peter Locke, Kew. Image provided by Chris Locke

Following the Scholarship, Janet worked as an architect until their two children were born. This included work for both David Nye and David Martin, who had been 1930’s SPAB Scholars. Despite not continuing to pursue a career in architecture, Janet continued to utilise her knowledge, interest and passion for historic buildings.  

Between 1986 and 2008 Janet was a major contributor to the work of the Richmond Society in protecting and enhancing the character and amenity of Richmond, where Janet and Peter then lived. This included serving on the Executive Committee and sitting on the Conservation, Development and Planning sub-committee from 1986 to 2008. Across these years, Janet led the society’s important work in monitoring and commenting on development proposals. This involved the careful scrutiny and consideration of many hundreds of planning applications each year and drafting and submitting representations in collaboration with committee colleagues. 

At the formation of the Dance Scholarship Trust in 1989 Janet was eager to be involved, to assist in supporting the scholarship and to enable continued contact among Scholars. Janet was a DST committee member for some years before taking on the role of Chairman, a role in which she was gracious and considerate yet astute and efficient, with a sharp focused attention to detail. For many years to follow Janet enjoyed attending the Scholars annual gatherings, where her warmth and enthusiasm formed a bridge between Scholars new and old. Janet continued to be of great benefit to the Trust, offering good advice and often asking searching questions to ensure all was considered and correct.

Janet continued to have excursions, with Peter until his death in 2012, and with friends in recent years, to Scholarship gatherings, historic buildings or exhibitions of interest. Janet continued the scholarly tradition of making these sometimes mighty journeys by public transport.

Peter had joined Donald in practice in 1958, where he continued to work as a key figure until his retirement in 1995. During this time Janet was always an important part of the practices working family, she is remembered fondly by Donald and many of Peter’s colleagues as such good company and much loved. Janet will be missed by all who knew her. We will remain forever grateful for and miss her great warmth, welcoming smile and unfailing passion for historic buildings and their correct treatment. 

2016, Janet Locke and Donald Insall, SPAB Offices in Spital Square. SPAB archives.

The funeral will take place on Tuesday 9th June at 3:30pm. While attendance is restricted, Janet’s family intend to organise a full celebration of her life when circumstances allow. Details for sending flowers, donations to the chosen charity (SPAB) and details on how to observe the service online via webcast can be found from the following link:


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