Ethel Charless design for houses Cornwall 1906
After becoming the first female member of the RIBA, Ethel Mary Charles went on to design a range of small projects.
Encouraged by their father to follow a profession, Ethel and her sister Bessie chose architecture. The Architectural Association refused her entry but she took articles with Ernest George & Peto for three years in 1892. She passed the RIBA Exams in 1898 and applied for Associate membership. Nothing in the RIBA rules prevented her joining but a campaign opposing women members ensued. Nevertheless she was formally elected as an Associate in 1898 becoming the RIBA’s first female member.
She practised in London and Falmouth, doing mostly residential work in the Arts and Crafts style. The large public and commercial commissions that interested her remained out of reach.
Article by Cathy Wilson, RIBA
6 March 2015
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Walker, L., (ed.) 1984.
'Women Architects: Their Work'.
London: Sorella Press
Shelved at 72-055.2(41/42)(064) // WOM [Reference]
Richardson, M., 1983.
'Architects of the Arts and Crafts Movement'.
London: Trefoil Books
Shelved at 72.036.592(42):92 // RIC [Reference]
Ethel Charles drawing: Design for proposed semi-detached houses at Gyllyng Road, Falmouth, Cornwall, for Mr Vinson: plans, sections and elevations
Call/Ref. no. CHARLES [PB260/22: Located at the V&A]