Ninian Comper

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Ninian Comper
The spectacular interior of St. Mary's, Wellingborough. - geograph.org.uk - 1656080.jpg
The spectacular interior of St Mary's, Wellingborough
Born (1864-06-10)10 June 1864
Aberdeen
Died 22 December 1960(1960-12-22) (aged 96)
Clapham
Nationality British
Practice Bucknall & Comper

Sir John Ninian Comper (1864–1960)[1][2] was a Scottish-born architect. He was one of the last of the great Gothic Revival architects,[3] noted for his churches and their furnishings. He is well known for his stained glass, his use of colour and his subtle integration of Classical and Gothic elements which he described as unity by inclusion.

Career[edit]

Comper was born in Aberdeen, the eldest of five children of Ellen Taylor of Hull and the Reverend John Comper, Rector of St John's, Aberdeen (and later St Margaret of Scotland). He was educated at Glenalmond School in Perthshire and attended a year at the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford. On moving to London, he was articled to Charles Eamer Kempe, and later to George Frederick Bodley and Thomas Garner. His fellow-Scot William Bucknall took him into partnership in London in 1888 and Ninian was married to Grace Bucknall in 1890. Bucknall and Comper remained in partnership until 1905.

His ecclesiastical commissions include a line of windows in the north wall of the nave of Westminster Abbey; at St Peter's Parish Church, Huddersfield baldachino/ciborium, high altar and east window in memory of the dead of the Great War; St Mary's, Wellingborough; St Michael and All Angels, Inverness; the Lady Chapel at Downside Abbey, Somerset; the ciborium and House Chapel extension for the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Oxford (now St Stephen's House, Oxford) and St Cyprian's, Clarence Gate, London; the Lady Chapel at St Matthew's, Westminster; Lady Chapel and gilded paintings in the chancel of All Saints, Margaret Street.

Comper is noted for re-introducing the 'English altar', an altar surrounded by riddel posts. Comper designed a number of remarkable altar screens (reredos), inspired by medieval originals. Wymondham Abbey, Norfolk, has one of the finest examples.

Reredos in Wymondham Abbey, designed by Comper

Only one major ecclesiastical work of Comper's is in the United States, the Leslie Lindsey Chapel of Boston's Emmanuel Episcopal Church. The work is an all-encompassing product of and testimony to Comper's design capability, comprising the entire decorative scheme of the chapel designed by the architectural firm of Allen & Collins. Comper designed its altar, altar screen, pulpit, lectern, dozens of statues, all its furnishings and appointments, and most notably the stained glass windows. The chapel commemorates Leslie Lindsey and Stewart Mason, her husband of ten days, who were married at Emmanuel Church and perished when the Lusitania was torpedoed in 1915.

From 1912 Ninian and Grace lived in London at The Priory, Beulah Hill, a house designed by Decimus Burton (1800–81), where he entertained friends such as John Betjeman. He had a studio nearby at Knights Hill, close to the world's first Gothic Cemetery at West Norwood. After the studio was destroyed in World War II it was relocated to a building in his garden, which had previously been used by his son, Nicholas Comper (1897–1939), to design aircraft.[4]

Comper was knighted by King George VI in 1950.

On 22 December 1960 he died in The Hostel of God (now Trinity Hospice) in Clapham. His body was brought back to Norwood for cremation at West Norwood Cemetery.[5] His ashes were then interred beneath the windows he designed in Westminster Abbey.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Leonard Buckley (1994*). Sir Ninian Comper, 1864-1960 and Howard Martin Otto (Otho) Travers, 1886-1948: A Belated Tribute. Ecclesiological Society. 
  2. ^ Anthony Symondson; Royal Institute of British Architects (1988). The Life and Work of Sir Ninian Comper 1864-1960: Catalogue for the Exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects, 20 January Until 27 February 1988. Royal Institute of British Architects. 
  3. ^ Anthony Symondson; Stephen Arthur Bucknall (2006). Sir Ninian Comper: An Introduction to His Life and Work, With Complete Gazetteer. Spire Books & the Ecclesiological Society. ISBN 978-1-904965-11-4. 
  4. ^ Sir Ninian Comper in Norwood The Norwood Society
  5. ^ West Norwood Cemetery registers. Cremations, 29 December 1960
  6. ^ Obituary, Sir Ninian Comper, The Times, Friday 23 December 1960

Footnotes[edit]

  • Anonymous (2009). Lindsey Chapel: Its History & Architecture. Boston, MA: Emmanuel Church in the City of Boston. 
  • Symondson, A.; Bucknall, S. (2006). Sir Ninian Comper. Spire Books. 

External links[edit]