|Bio Notes: ||Detmar Jellings Blow was born in London on 24 November 1867, the son of Jellings Blow, a City of London merchant. He was educated at Hawtreys and at South Kensington School of Art, where in 1883 he formed a long-standing friendship with his fellow student Lutyens. In 1885 he was articled to Wilson, Son & Aldwinckle with whom he stayed for four years, attending the classes of the Architectural Association from 1887. He won both the Association's Silver Medal and travelling studentship and the Royal Academy's Silver Medal and travelling studentship, enabling him to undertake an extended continental study tour, initially with Sydney Cockerell. At Abbeville in 1888 they met Ruskin who first supervised their studies and then took Blow on a tour of Italy in the autumn and winter of 1889. On his return to London he worked with the Bond Street art dealer Arthur Collie and made the acquaintance of Sedding, Morris, Lethaby, Reginald Blomfield, Sydney Barnsley and Ernest Gimson. On Ruskin's advice he spent almost a year with a working mason in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, learning the practical business of building before completing his articles with Philip Speakman Webb, whose repair and restoration work on East Knoyle Church he supervised in 1891-93. |
In 1892 Blow won the Pugin Prize and was admitted to the Art Workers' Guild. In the previous year he had been commissioned to advise on work on Hugh Fairfax Cholmeley's Gilling Castle estate, and he was formally appointed its architect in 1893. A London office shared with Alfred Hoare Powell was opened at 21 Old Buildings, Lincoln's Inn, but he continued to operate a peripatetic architect-craftsman practice with a caravan until 1906 when he formed a partnership with the Frenchman Fernand Billerey, born 1878, who was eleven years younger. Billerey was Ecole des Beaux-Arts trained and much of the practice of Blow & Billerey thereafter took a French eighteenth-century character, their principal client being the Duke of Westminster.
Blow married in 1910 Winifred Tollemache, second daughter of the Hon Hamilton Tollemache of Helmingham Hall. This consolidated his high society connections, but with the advent of the First World War the practice began to run out of work. In 1916 he became the Duke of Westminster's private secretary and manager of the Grosvenor estates, although his partnership with Billerey was to continue until 1924, Billerey retaining the practice title of Blow & Billerey. Part of Blow's financial arrangements with the Duke was the gift from him of seven leases in Mayfair, the sub-leasing of which financed the Blows' lifestyle at Hilles, Gloucestershire, which they had built in 1914-17. In 1933 these arrangements turned sour with largely unfounded allegations of financial mismanagement of the Grosvenor estates and the sub-leases in particular. Although Blow repaid the monies from the sub-leases, further allegations continued to be made: Blow thereafter retired completely to Hilles where he died on 7 February 1939. Billerey survived him, living on until 1951.