The death of Cissie Godfrey at the age of 104 on 16 July 2007 marked the passing of one of the last characters of the early Castlecrag community.
Born Sarah (Cis) Leveson to Polish parents in Glasgow, Scotland, she married Tom Godfrey, an engineer and they immediately emigrated to Sydney. Living in the Griffin house at 136 Edinburgh Road, Castlecrag from 1931 to 1939, they became actively involved in the local community.
Cissie and Tom hosted music evenings at their house every Monday. Cissie remembered that these evenings usually ended in discussion, and that Marion Griffin would often raise arguments about mathematics and music. Walter and Marion never failed to turn up on Monday nights.
In her later years Cissie often discussed Castlecrag and had a remarkable memory for conversations, events and life in Castlecrag, even recalling conversations of 70 years ago. The years did not dim her memory of Walter and Marion Griffin. Or of personalities such as Betty Roland, author and playwright and her partner, Guido Barachi, a well known socialist; Guy Manton, Professor of Greek; writer Bernard Hesling, and his wife, Flo; lawyer and politician, Edward St.John; architect, Hugh Burhich; sculptors Bim Hilder and Anita Date; artists Lorna and Edmund Harvey; and bushwalkers Anice and Frank Duncan. The Godfreys shared the Griffins’ love of the bush and were avid bush walkers.
When the Godfreys moved to Avalon during the war she maintained her links to Castlecrag and enjoyed her role as keeper of a part of Australian history. She visitedBeyond Architecture, the Powerhouse Museum exhibition curated by Anne Watson in 1998, and made a cameo appearance in Bronwyn Mason’s ABC/Film Australia documentary, City of Dreams: the Collaboration of Marion Mahony and Walter Burley Griffin (2000).
To her friends Cis Godfrey was special, not because she lived to be 104 but because she defied convention. She was fun, gentle, kind, forgiving, a great confidante. She had a robust sense of humour which could be at times quite outrageous. She meant many things to many people.
Courtesy WB Griffin Society newsletter