Farmer & Brindley

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Arch detail, Natural History Museum, London

Farmer & Brindley was a firm of architectural sculptors and ornamentalists based in London, founded by William Farmer (1825-1879) and William Brindley (1832-1919), who contributed to some of the greatest structures of the Victorian era.

The firm, located on Westminster Bridge Road in London, flourished as stone and woodcarvers in the period of heavily ornamented structures, sometimes supplying sculpted figures, sometimes patterns of exterior ornamentation, sometimes interior woodcarving and church furnishings, and, later in the firm's history, supplying marble.

Brindley began as an employed stone carver for Farmer, and they became partners in the 1860s. For architect Alfred Waterhouse alone they collaborated on over 100 buildings, the most significant of which was London's Natural History Museum, with its innovative use of architectural terracotta cladding. After Farmer's death Brindley turned to writing, for instance collaborating with Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema on Marbles Their Ancient and Modern Application.

Architect Sir George Gilbert Scott, the firm's "most notable and prolific patron," said of Brindley that he was "the best carver I have ever met and the one who best understands my views.''[1]

Farmer & Brindley employees included C. J. Allen, who was with the firm for ten years, John William Kitson (architectural sculptor) apprenticing 1860 - 1868 before moving to Philadelphia and then New York City, and Harry Bates, who apprenticed with them from 1869 to 1879.[2] In 1887 the firm employed Furio and Attilio Piccirilli who had recently immigrated from Italy to work on the reredos and altar then being carved for St. Paul's Cathedral.[3] (These same Piccirillis became among the most notable fine stonecarvers in turn-of-the-century New York City.) According to Ward-Jackson, the St. Paul's reredos had been designed by Bodley and Garner and were to be the firm's magnum opus, but they met a hostile reception and were removed.

The firm merged with another one in 1929, at which point most of its records were lost.[4]

Selected commissions[edit]


  1. ^ Noszlopy, George T., Jeremy Beach, editor, Public Sculpture in Birmingham: including Sutton, Coldfield, Liverpool University Press, Liverpool. 1998
  2. ^ Read, Benedict, Victorian Sculpture, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1983, p. 308 and 352
  3. ^ Lombardo, Josef Vincent, Atilio Piccirilli: Life of an American Sculptor, Pitman Publishing Corporation, New York 1944
  4. ^ Beattie, Susan, The New Sculpture, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1983 p. 24
  • online biography
  • Public Sculpture of the City of London, by Philip Ward-Jackson
  • New York Times February 8, 1888