John Francis Bentley

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Portrait of John Francis Bentley by William Christian Symons, 1902

John Francis Bentley (30 January 1839 – 2 March 1902) was an English ecclesiastical architect whose most famous work is the Westminster Cathedral in London, England, built in a style heavily influenced by Byzantine architecture.

Life[edit]

Westminster Cathedral was designed by John Francis Bentley and constructed between 1895 and 1903.

Bentley was born in Doncaster. In 1858, he was associated with the firm of Holland & Hannan. He was an apt modeller and had tried his hand with success at stone carving. He studied under Henry Clutton before branching out on his own in 1868.[1]

His first important commission was from Cardinal Manning, for the seminary at Hammersmith. Examples of his work include Holy Rood Church, Watford, St John's Beaumont School, Corpus Christi Church, Brixton, St Mary's, Cadogan Street, Chelsea (1879), the high altar at St Gabriel's, Warwick Square,[2] and St Luke's Church, Chiddingstone Causeway (1897),[3] and the Sacred Heart Chapel at the Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street.[1] He was a master of the neo-Gothic and Byzantine Revival styles.

The great opportunity of Bentley's career came in 1894, when he was commissioned to design a new Roman Catholic cathedral in Westminster, London. After deciding on a Byzantine Revival design, Bentley travelled to Italy to study some of the great early Byzantine-influenced cathedrals, such as St Mark's Basilica in Venice. Because of illness and an outbreak of cholera in Istanbul, he was unable to complete his tour with a study of the Hagia Sofia. Bentley ended his tour in Venice and returned to London to begin work on Westminster Cathedral.[4]

He was a person of brusque, reserved manner, but kind and friendly to those who knew him. He had the strongest dislike to the preparation of show drawings and to the system of architectural competition and, being a man wholly lacking in self-assertion, and reticent in conversation, was never as well known in general circles as he deserved to be. His great characteristics as an architect were his careful attention to detail, his solicitude that all the fittings should be in perfect harmony with the building.[1]

Bentley was awarded the gold medal of the Institute of Architects in February, 1902, but never received it, as on the 1st of March he was seized with paralysis and died the following morning in Clapham. He is buried at St Mary Magdalen Church, Mortlake.

Architectural work[edit]

Also St Francis of Assisi London W11

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Williamson, George. "John Francis Bentley." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 5 June 2019 This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ "CHURCH OF ST GABRIEL – 1357369". Historic England. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  3. ^ Homan, Roger (1984). The Victorian Churches of Kent. Chichester: Phillimore & Co. Ltd. p. 105. ISBN 0-85033-466-7.
  4. ^ Paul Waterhouse, Bentley, John Francis (1839–1902), rev. Peter Howell, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 31 Jan 2011

References[edit]

  • This article incorporates text from The Modern World Encyclopædia: Illustrated (1935); out of UK copyright as of 2005.
  • Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "John Francis Bentley" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  • Philip's Encyclopedia Comprehensive Edition 2008. Octopus publishing Group. 2007. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-540-09151-5.

External links[edit]