Robert Potter (architect)

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Robert Potter
Born (1909-10-06)6 October 1909
Guildford, Surrey
Died 30 November 2010(2010-11-30) (aged 101)
Nationality English
Alma mater Regent Street Polytechnic
Occupation Architect
Awards OBE
Practice Brandt, Potter, Hare
Buildings St Francis Church Salisbury, Church of the Ascension, Crownhill, South Stoneham Tower
Projects Chichester Cathedral, Bodleian Library, St Stephen Walbrook, All Souls Church, Langham Place, St Paul's Cathedral, St Peter Mancroft

Robert James Potter OBE (Guildford 6 October 1909 – 30 November 2010) was an English architect who was noted for his work on church buildings.[1][2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Potter was born in Guildford, Surrey to Jack Potter, an engraver who worked on printing blocks for Bank of England bank notes, and his wife Florence.[1] After school he studied Architecture at the Regent Street Polytechnic.[1]


Potter moved to Salisbury in 1935 aged 26, establishing an architectural practice there. Within three years he was commissioned to design St Francis Church in the city, which has subsequently become a listed building. In the Second World War he served the Royal Engineers in northern India where he was involved in constructing road and rail networks to enable troop movements to the war in the Far East. He attained the rank of lieutenant-colonel during his wartime service.[1]

After the war he returned to Salisbury and began a professional partnership with William Randoll Blacking, who had studied under Sir Ninian Comper and was known for his design and conservation work on ecclesiastical buildings. Their partnership lasted 11 years, after which Potter established his own firm with a new partner, Richard Hare, based in De Vaux House in Salsibury.[1]

Potter's designs included military and residential buildings (such as the extensive extension to South Stoneham House in Southampton) but his primary focus was on church architecture; in 1958 his Church of the Ascension, Crownhill in Plymouth was consecrated and in 1959 he started work on St George's Oakdale in Poole. Potter's practice expanded in 1967, being renamed the Brandt, Potter, Hare Partnership and opening an office in Southampton.[1]

Potter's work was not purely focussed on new builds, he was involved in substantial renovation works to a number of well known buildings including Chichester Cathedral, Oxford's Bodleian Library, St Peter Mancroft (the largest church building in Norwich) and St Stephen Walbrook, All Souls Church, Langham Place and St Paul's Cathedral, all in central London.[1] He became well known for creating community rooms under the foundations of ancient church buildings and earned the nickname "The Mole" as a result.[2] In addition to his work on the buildings themselves, Potter was noted for his designs of fixtures and fittings including organs, crosses, candlesticks and fonts.[2]

In 1989 Potter's designs were used to extend the St Edward the Confessor Roman Catholic Church in Chandler's Ford, Hampshire, the original building of which had been designed by Potter's first professional partner, William Randoll Blacking.[4]

Potter was awarded the OBE in 1993.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Potter married his first wife, Geraldine Buchanan, when he moved to Salisbury in 1935. They had three children together but divorced in the early 1960s. He married again to Margaret and had two step children. He enjoyed watercolour painting and sailing, having obtained a master mariner's certificate.[1]

Notable works[edit]

The notable buildings that Potter designed or worked on include:

Year Building Image Location Potter's role Building status
1938 St Francis Church Salisbury[1] St Francis's, Salisbury - - 519790.jpg Salisbury, Wiltshire Architect Grade II listed
1955–1977 Chichester Cathedral[1] Chichester Cathedral epodkopaev.jpg Chichester, West Sussex Assisted with renovation; established masons' workshop Grade I listed
1958 Church of the Ascension, Crownhill[1] Church of the Ascension, Manadon.jpg Crownhill, Plymouth, Devon Architect Grade II listed[5]
1960s St Peter Mancroft[3] St Peter Mancroft.jpg Norwich, Norfolk Architect (roof replacement) Grade I listed[6]
1964 South Stoneham House[7] South Stoneham House.jpg Swaythling, Southampton Architect of major extension including 17-storey tower block Grade II* listed
1967 All Saints Clifton[8] All Saints Bristol 01.jpg Clifton, Bristol Architect (rebuilding) Grade II listed[9]
1970s St Paul's Cathedral[1] St Pauls aerial.jpg City of London, London Surveyor to the Fabric Grade I listed
1976 Lincoln College Library (formerly All Saints Church)[10] Lincoln College 2009 Oxford LL.jpg Oxford, Oxfordshire Conversion of church building into library Grade I listed
1988 St Andrew's Church, Goldsworth Park[11] St Andrew's Church, Goldsworth Park, Woking (June 2015) (2).JPG Goldsworth Park, Woking, Surrey Architect
1989 Church of St Edward the Confessor, Chandler's Ford[4] St Edward the Confessor Catholic Church - - 139662.jpg Chandler's Ford, Hampshire Architect (extension)
Unknown Bodleian Library[1] The Tower of the Five Orders Oxford.jpg Oxford, Oxfordshire Architect (structural reinforcements) Grade I listed
Unknown St Stephen Walbrook[1] St Stephen Walbrook.jpg City of London, London Architect (renovations/repairs) Grade I listed
Unknown All Souls Church, Langham Place[1] All Souls Church.jpg Marylebone, London Architect (renovations/repairs) Grade I listed[12]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Robert Potter (obituary)". Daily Telegraph. 10 December 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "Robert Potter: church architect". The Times. 11 January 2011. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Pollitt, Michael (5 January 2011). "Robert Potter: Gave new lease of life to Norwich medieval church". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "ST EDWARD THE CONFESSOR – CHANDLERS FORD". Taking Stock. English Heritage. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  5. ^ "Church of the Ascension, Plymouth". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  6. ^ "Church of St Peter Mancroft, Norwich". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "Extensions to a hall of residence, University of Southampton" (PDF). Concrete Quarterly (60): 14–16. January–March 1964. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  8. ^ "All Saints Clifton – History". Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  9. ^ "CHURCH OF ALL SAINTS - 1208704". Historic England. Retrieved 2017-03-07. 
  10. ^ "Lincoln College Library". The High. Retrieved 9 October 2013. 
  11. ^ "Goldsworth Park: St Andrew, Goldsworth Park". A Church Near You website. Archbishops' Council. 2015. Archived from the original on 15 July 2015. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  12. ^ "Church of All Souls, Langham Place, Westminster". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 19 June 2013.