Gillian Newberry Obituary

 Gillian Newberry of Bennison Fabrics                                   

 Died on Saturday 4th February 2023                                   

It is with great sadness that I must announce the death of Gilly (Gillian) Newberry. To those of us who had the honour of knowing her Gilly was unique gracious and beautiful with a deliciously wicked sense of humour. An inspiration to us all not only with her wonderful sense of style but in her caring and modest demeanor to. Gilly was an enrichment to all our lives 

Gilly and Geoff had created a wonderful life for themselves in Mallorca and for many years took great joy in the pleasures that were on offer on that idyllic island. 

Sadly for the last year or so Gilly had been living with Cancer and put up a remarkably brave fight to keep it at bay. Luckily she managed to return to her beloved Mallorca, where her dear husband Geoff and their children were with her at the end. To them all we send our deepest sympathy and love and remember a very dear friend.

Gilly way back in the mists of time had worked at British Vogue, in the photographic studio of David Bailey and in The Royal College of Art’s fashion school prior to joining Geoffrey Bennison. 

She first met Geoffrey Bennison through an introduction from his hairdresser in September 1979. Geoffrey desperately needed someone to sort out his administrative muddle at his eponymous antique shop on The Pimlico Road. The paperwork, not his best point, was rapidly spiraling out of control as his business expanded and his decorating projects took him further afield.

As time passed, over and above all the paperwork, Gilly became Geoffrey’s right arm in developing his archive of antique textile documents which he believed could be faithfully and sensitively reproduced for future generations. Together they created the Bennison collection of exquisite fabrics. Geoffrey Bennison died unexpectedly in 1984. He left the textile branch of his business to Gilly. And so it was that in 1985 Gilly and Geoff, her husband, set up Bennison Fabrics independently from Bennison Antiques in their wonderful shop on Holbein Place. Their independent skills made a remarkable team. Gilly concentrating on her skills as a designer 

and Geoff as a brilliant administrator. Not forgetting the great help of Alex and Debs Macintyre , both of whom had also worked with Geoffrey Bennison.

Over the past 37 years Gilly developed and extended the range of beautiful fabrics adding contemporary touches here and there and keeping alive the memory of Geoffrey Bennison and the punchy English Country House look that he created. Who can forget the wonderful “Blue Roses ” pattern, the “Floral Column” or the dramatic “Lorenzo” damask print from those early years. More recently Gilly added the delicate beauty of the design “Paradise” and the zinging magic of “Little Aztec” and many more. All in all a remarkable legacy to add to the world’s collection of beautiful fabrics, 

On the 8th of April 2015, Gilly launched her wonderful book on the life of  “Geoffrey Bennison: Master Decorator”. Those of us who were lucky enough to be invited to the glamorous and magical launch party at Leighton House will never forget it. This book is a testament not only to Mr Bennison but of her life and efforts at keeping the flame burning. 

In all these endeavours Gilly was supported not only by her devoted husband Geoff but by a remarkable team in her show rooms here and in America and at the Print Factories she used. Though Holbein Place was the home base they were extremely proud of what they had created in New York. Gilly had the knack of bringing together a family of charming and delightful people to support her and Geoff in their fabulous enterprise Long may the business and her remarkable legacy continue to grace our neighbourhood . I know the team here and in America will continue the dream. 

Gilly is survived by her beloved husband Geoff, their adored children, Jack and Holly, and five magical grandchildren. 

In fond memory and deepest sympathy to the Newberry family and all her work colleagues.

Mark Boyce  

This small pocket of Belgravia - just a few minutes walk from Sloane Square - is home to some of the finest antiques shops and galleries in London. There is a vast array of choice; endless variety that satisfies every appetite from the expert eye to the simply inquisitive looking for something special.

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