George Frederick Bodley

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George Frederick Bodley

George Frederick Bodley00.jpg
George Frederick Bodley, c. 1900
Born(1827-03-14)14 March 1827
Died21 October 1907(1907-10-21) (aged 80)
AwardsRoyal Gold Medal for Architecture (1899)
PracticeBodley and Garner
BuildingsWashington National Cathedral
St David's Cathedral, Hobart

George Frederick Bodley RA (14 March 1827 – 21 October 1907) was an English Gothic Revival architect. He was a pupil of Sir George Gilbert Scott, and worked in partnership with Thomas Garner for much of his career. He was one of the founders of Watts & Co.

Personal life[edit]

Bodley was the youngest son of William Hulme Bodley, M.D., of Edinburgh, physician at Hull Royal Infirmary, Hull, who in 1838 retired to his wife's home town, Brighton, Sussex, England. George's eldest brother, the Rev. W.H. Bodley, became a well-known Roman Catholic preacher and a professor at St Mary's College, New Oscott, Birmingham.

He married Minna F.H. Reavely, daughter of Thomas George Wood Reavely, at Kinnersley Castle in 1872. They had a son, George H. Bodley, born in 1874.


Blue plaque on Harley Street, London

Bodley was articled to the architect Sir George Gilbert Scott, a relative by marriage, under whose influence he became imbued with the spirit of the Gothic revival, and he became known as the chief exponent of 14th century English Gothic, and the leading ecclesiastical architect in England.[1] He is regarded as the leader of the resurgence of interest in English and Northern European late-medieval design. Noted for his pioneering design work in the Queen Anne revival,[2]

Bodley became acquainted with William Morris in the late 1850s, and in the 1860s his commissions for stained glass and ecclesiastical decoration helped ensure the success of Morris's firm, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., founded in 1861. Bodley is said to have designed two of Morris's early wallpapers. By the late 1860s Bodley had become disenchanted with Morris, and for stained glass turned to the firm of Burlison and Grylls, founded in 1868, for the glass in his later churches, notably St Augustine's Church, Pendlebury, near Manchester (designed 1870) and the Church of the Holy Angels, Hoar Cross in Staffordshire (designed 1871–72). Bodley worked with his lifelong friend, the stained glass designer Charles Eamer Kempe. They collaborated on projects including: St John the Baptist, Tuebrook in Liverpool; Queens' College Chapel, Cambridge; All Saints, Danehill, East Sussex and The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire.[2] His alterations to St Stephen's Church, Gloucester Road, London, the architect and president of RIBA, Harry Stuart Goodhart-Rendel said tamed the work of its founding 'rogue' Victorian architect, Joseph Peacock.[3]

Partnership with Thomas Garner[edit]

From 1869 he worked in a twenty-eight-year partnership with Thomas Garner, designing collegiate buildings in Oxford and Cambridge, country houses and churches throughout the British Isles. One cathedral was completed to his design: St David's Cathedral, Hobart in Tasmania, Australia (first design, 1865; revised 1891; building completed 1936). In 1906 Bodley designed with his pupil Henry Vaughan the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. He also provided a design for Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, but it was not used.

As well as Vaughan, Bodley and Garner's pupils included the garden designer Inigo Thomas who specialised in formal gardens with geometrical plans in 17th and 18th century styles, which suited the houses that Bodley and Garner renovated for wealthy clients.

In 1874 Bodley founded Watts & Co. with Garner and George Gilbert Scott Jr. Bodley, Garner, and Scott all lived on Church Row in Hampstead in the 1860s and 70s.[4][2]

His secular work included the London School Board offices, and in collaboration with Garner, the new buildings at Magdalen College, Oxford, and Hewell Grange, Worcestershire (for Lord Windsor).

Liverpool Cathedral competition[edit]

In 1902 Bodley was an assessor for the competition to design Liverpool Cathedral which selected a design by the young Giles Gilbert Scott. When construction of the cathedral began in 1904, Bodley was appointed to oversee Gilbert Scott's work, but had no direct part in its design.

Late works[edit]

One of Bodley's final architectural works was the chapel at Bedford School, the foundation stone of which was laid on 18 May 1907 by Lord St John of Bletso. Building took a year, the chapel was consecrated in July 1908, but by which time Bodley had died. The other was the Saint Chad's parish church, Burton-on-Trent. Work started in 1905 and the church was consecrated in 1910. After Bodley's death his partner Cecil Greenwood Hare took over the project; his contribution was the design of an octagonal choir vestry.

Royal Academy[edit]

Bodley exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1854. He was elected an associate of the academy in 1881 and a full academician in 1902.

Other activities[edit]

As well as being an architect, he was a draughtsman, a connoisseur of art, published a volume of poems in 1899, inspired art works by painters such as John Melhuish Strudwick and designed wallpaper and chintzes for Watts & Co.[1] He served as prime warden of the Fishmongers' Company in 1901–02. In early life he had been in close alliance with the Pre-Raphaelites, and he did a great deal to improve public taste in domestic decoration and furniture.[1]


Bodley died on 21 October 1907 at Water Eaton, Oxfordshire and is buried in the churchyard of the Church of St James, Kinnersley, Herefordshire.



New churches[edit]

Church repairs, alterations and furnishings[edit]

Secular buildings[edit]


  1. ^ a b c  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bodley, George Frederick". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 110.
  2. ^ a b c "George Frederick Bodley (1827–1907)" (PDF). Bodley & Kempe Centenary: A celebration of Victorian church art and design. The Churches Conservation Trust. 1 July 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 November 2007. Retrieved 30 May 2008.
  3. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1293603)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  4. ^ Hall, Michael (2016) [2004]. "Bodley, George Frederick". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/31944. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ Homan 1984, p. 57.
  6. ^ Homan 1984, p. 106.
  7. ^ Historic England. ": Church of St Michael, Kirk Langley (Grade I) (1109095)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
  8. ^ "Wimborne St. Giles," in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 5, East, (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1975), 92-104. British History Online, accessed May 18, 2022
  9. ^ Homan 1984, p. 75.
  10. ^ Newman & Pevsner 1972, p. 334.
  11. ^ "St Barnabas Church - Guide".


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