Giles Weaver. Courtesy of Ros Weaver

A Tribute to Giles Weaver (1946-2020)

By Philip Godsal

The Trustees are sad to report the death of Giles Weaver, who had been one of our number since the early days of the Trust. His wise and often humorous words are much missed. Our thoughts are with his widow, Ros, and family and we are grateful to his friend, Philip, for the following tribute to him.

Greywalls was bought by Giles Weaver’s grandfather, Sir James Horlick 4th Baronet, son of the co-inventor, with his brother William Horlick, of malted milk Horlicks, in 1924. Later, James bought the Isle of Gigha, off the west coast of Kintyre, and, in 1944, handed Greywalls, designed by Edwin Lutyens for Alfred Lyttelton and built in 1901, to his daughter Ursula, Giles’s mother. She and her husband, Colonel John Weaver, converted the house into a hotel in 1948 when Giles was two. Thus began the latter’s lifelong love of the place and abiding interest in the architecture of Lutyens and garden designs of Gertrude Jekyll. Giles made it his mission to visit as many Lutyens buildings as he could; indeed, to celebrate his 70th birthday, he and his children and grandchildren made the pilgrimage to Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island following the 62-mile St Cuthbert’s Way.

Giles and his wife, Ros, took over Greywalls in 1977. Meanwhile, he continued his successful job with fund manager Ivory and Sime in Edinburgh, later commuting to London, where he was Managing Director Pensions Development at The Pru, then to Glasgow as chairman of fund manager Murray Johnstone, before becoming a director of Aberdeen Asset Management. Every Saturday morning he did the hotel books before escaping with a sigh of relief to Muirfield golf course adjacent to Greywalls. Ros ran the hotel day to day and, with Giles, they greatly enhanced its reputation for comfort, good food and conviviality.

Giles was acutely aware of the responsibility of maintaining such an important property. The Lutyens design has an addition by renowned Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer, possibly making it unique in Scotland by featuring work by these two leading architects of the day. Ros has managed the gardens with great skill and sensitivity as they have evolved over the years.

Giles was a very effective chairman of The Historic Houses Association of Scotland. As his successor commented, “He turned things around just as the Scottish Parliament was coming in to being”. He was deputy chairman of National Galleries of Scotland. Its Director-General writes, “He was a brilliant trustee and a friend and loyal supporter”. Giles also served as a trustee of the Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation. He was also a chairman of Edinburgh’s private members’ club The New Club and of property firm Helical Bar.

Giles and Ros moved out of Greywalls in January 2013 to a lovely house a couple of miles away ­– which they completely refurbished – with wonderful views across to Greywalls and over the Firth of Forth to Fife. Much to their great pleasure, their daughter Johanna, her husband Dominic Hoar and their two children recently moved to Greywalls.

Vice-regal Visions by Giles Weaver (also known as Father Luminus)

They have very much in common
Do New Delhi and our home:

Greywalls with the Lutyens skylight,

Delhi with its dome!
And then we have our driveway,

About two hundred metres,
Which entices you towards the house

That’s waiting there to greet us.
New Delhi has the Rajpath,
Two miles in Lutyens’s plan,
Where up the slope he draws you
To Rashtrapati Bhavan (pronounced “Ban”).

The Banquet Hall in Delhi
Has two fireplaces in it.
He lifted them from ours at Greywalls,

Isn’t that the limit!
A Vice-regal road of wooden parquet

Flooring’s in the house,
We’ve got that in our tearoom here,
He copied it – the louse!
And then the geometric layout,

Mughal Gardens grand –
Just take a look round Greywalls’ garden,

Then you’ll understand!
You, no doubt, think I live in
But a Lutyens little toy,
In fact, I feel in all respects

Just like the great Viceroy!