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‘He will be sorely missed’ - Family pay tribute to renowned architect

PUBLISHED: 08:08 15 October 2020 | UPDATED: 10:01 15 October 2020

The renowned architect Anthony Rossi, who was awarded a CBE for services to heritage and conservation, has died at the age of 88. Picture: SUPPLIED BY THE ROSSI FAMILY

The renowned architect Anthony Rossi, who was awarded a CBE for services to heritage and conservation, has died at the age of 88. Picture: SUPPLIED BY THE ROSSI FAMILY

Picture: SUPPLIED BY THE ROSSI FAMILY

A renowned architect who was awarded a CBE for services to heritage and conservation, and had a “passion” for Norfolk’s countryside, has died at the age of 88, following a long-term illness.

Blickling Hall, near Aylsham, is one of the projects Anthony Rossi worked on. Picture: Roger GriceBlickling Hall, near Aylsham, is one of the projects Anthony Rossi worked on. Picture: Roger Grice

A renowned architect who was awarded a CBE for services to heritage and conservation, and had a “passion” for Norfolk’s countryside, has died at the age of 88, following a long-term illness.

Anthony Rossi, who died on October 9 at his Norwich home, had previously lived in Little Walsingham, near Wells, and Wellingham, near Fakenham, and had worked for more than 35 years preserving and enhancing heritage in Norfolk, Suffolk, and Derbyshire.

Born in Birmingham on October 7, 1932, Mr Rossi came from a long line of Norwich silversmiths founded by Italian immigrant, Giacinto Rossi, who arrived in England during the 19th century. Six years later, his parents moved back to Norfolk, where he was educated at Norwich School.

Following his early education, he was articled to the Norwich-based architectural practice of Cecil Upcher and James Fletcher Watson.

Thorpe Hall, in Norwich, is one of the projects Anthony Rossi worked on. Photo: Simon FinlayThorpe Hall, in Norwich, is one of the projects Anthony Rossi worked on. Photo: Simon Finlay

Then, after two years at the Polytechnic School of Architecture, in London, followed by national service, he went on to work with several Norwich practices, including Wearing, Hastings and Rossi between 1968 and 1972, before completing a newly-established post graduate diploma in Conservation at the University of York.

During the mid-1970s he was appointed historic buildings adviser with Derbyshire County Council and then Conservation Group leader with Norwich City Council.

Although he later returned to Derbyshire to join a former colleague in private practice, in March 1987 he returned to his “beloved” Norfolk again where he established his own practice.

During the next 22 years, he went on to work on projects including repairing the near-derelict Thorpe Hall, in Norwich, and the severely damaged Waxham Barn, for Norfolk County Council.

Waxham Barn, Waxham, is another project Anthony Rossi worked on. Picture: ArchantWaxham Barn, Waxham, is another project Anthony Rossi worked on. Picture: Archant

He advised on the repair of the great barn at Paston, the care and maintenance of Blickling Hall and Flatford for the National Trust, as well as working for several preservation trusts, local authorities and historic churches, frequently in cooperation with English Heritage.

He also became deputy chairman of the Ancient Monuments Society, as well as chairman of its technical committee. He was a trustee and then consulting architect to the Historic Chapels Trust from its foundation in 1993.

He served for 20 years on the council of the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society, was a member of the Diocesan Historic Churches Committee, vice chairman of the Norwich Council of Churches and architectural advisor to Wolfson Foundation, a charitable trust committed to the advancement of science and medicine, health, education, the arts and humanities.

He also acted as an external examiner at Leicester School of Architecture, and worked with a number of other educational establishments including the University of York.

The renowned architect Anthony Rossi, who was awarded a CBE for services to heritage and conservation, has died at the age of 88. Picture: SUPPLIED BY THE ROSSI FAMILYThe renowned architect Anthony Rossi, who was awarded a CBE for services to heritage and conservation, has died at the age of 88. Picture: SUPPLIED BY THE ROSSI FAMILY

His work was recognised through a number of conservation and craftsmanship awards as well as two Civic Trust commendations.

A leader in environmentally responsible design, he won North Norfolk’s Graham Allen Award in 2007 for the new carbon-neutral design of the Roman Catholic Church in Little Walsingham, and in 2008 was awarded the CBE for Heritage and to Conservation.

A devout Roman Catholic, he also undertook work for the Roman Catholic Diocese of East Anglia and the National Shrine, including acting as architect to the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Norwich, for 11 years.

Finally, he was awarded a Papal Knighthood in 1998 for his outstanding contribution to the church.

Anthony Rossi also had Norwich Roman Catholic Cathedral, The Cathedral of St John the Baptist, on his portfolio of projects. Picture: ANTONY KELLYAnthony Rossi also had Norwich Roman Catholic Cathedral, The Cathedral of St John the Baptist, on his portfolio of projects. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

In his personal life, Mr Rossi married Claire Statham in 1963 and together they had four children. He also leaves behind 12 grandchildren.

Family and friends described him as “softly spoken and modest” with “talent and integrity always displayed with gentlemanly manners”.

His family added: “[He] adopted a low-key, even ascetic way of life with the air of a slightly eccentric Oxford don. With a bone dry, subversive sense of humour, he was profoundly pleased to have been once lampooned by the magazine, Private Eye, a publication of which he thoroughly approved.

“Apart from his devotion to his work, the church and his family, his simple pleasures included his books, the Norfolk countryside and a lifelong passion for both Sherlock Holmes and Gilbert and Sullivan.

Paston Great Barn, Paston, is another project Anthony Rossi worked on.  PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYPaston Great Barn, Paston, is another project Anthony Rossi worked on. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

“His extravagant rendition of The Mikado’s aria My Object All Sublime remains a treasured memory.

“He will be sorely missed.”


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