Obituary: Oliver Ford

Oliver Frederick Ford, decorator, born Bournemouth Dorset 19 June 1925, died Lacock Wiltshire 17 October 1992.

OLIVER FORD was for many years the doyen of the traditional decorators. He was recognised nationally and internationally for his impeccable taste in the 18th century.

His philosophy in decorating was to enhance the personality of the owner rather than himself and his rooms were noted for being elegant but understated, very much in 18th-century country-house taste, with an accent on simplicity. It was his aim to make a home to be lived in rather than to create a showroom.

Ford was born in 1925. Having served in the Second World War in the RAF as a volunteer reserve he studied decoration and decorative arts at the Southern College of Art, Bournemouth. As a member of a repertory company he was fascinated by stage decor, but his career in the field of interior design started at the London department store Waring and Gillow, as an assistant in the interior decorating department. When he realised he was making little progress, he approached Stefan Boudin of Jensen, the leading decorators in Paris, under whom he studied before he was eventually put in charge of their London office in George Street.

After a brief period in Nassau, he became a partner to Oswin Bateman Brown in the firm of Lenygon and Morant in London, first in Burlington Gardens, then in Grosvenor Square. The Queen Mother appointed him her Decorator in 1974, giving him a Royal Warrant. Amongst his other clients were the Duke of Marlborough at Blenheim, Mrs Harry Oppenheimer, Lord McAlpine of West Green (for whom he worked in Australia) and the Dorchester Hotel in London before its most recent refurbishment.

The firm now survives under the name of Oliver Ford, with its subsidiary Howard Chairs. The van bearing Oliver Ford's name can frequently be seen making deliveries throughout London and could sometimes be spotted at Paddington railway station collecting him on his arrival from Chippenham, near where he lived at Bewley Court, adjacent to Lacock village. His home, which has stood for nearly 600 years, was renovated and loved by him and included its own chapel together with more than 12 individual gardens which he created in his grounds. Ford has no heirs and has left Bewley Court, its contents and gardens, to 'The Oliver Ford Charitable Trust' to be opened to the public for their enjoyment in perpetuity, with all proceeds going to the mentally handicapped.

Noted for his modesty, his charm and keen humour, Ford recently said in a House & Garden interview: 'I have done nothing to the house at all, it was always beautiful and, quite honestly, if you were to take out all my tat, it would be even more beautiful.'

One of his well-known dislikes was decorating a room where there was a grand piano. He said he hoped one day to see such apartments in Grosvenor Square with the backs of their grand pianos stuck out through the walls - like air conditioning units in New York. More seriously he said, 'The most important thing is to work well with a client. I have never worked for anyone who has asked me to decorate for them rather than with them.'

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR and Payroll Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This dynamic outsourced contact...

Recruitment Genius: Production & Quality Control Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...

Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor - Kettering - £32,000

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Generalist

£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat