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 John Francis Bentley

John Francis Bentley

Birth
Doncaster, Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England
Death 2 Mar 1902 (aged 63)
London, City of London, Greater London, England
Burial Mortlake, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Greater London, England
Memorial ID 7470992 · View Source
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Architect. He is most known as the architect of Westminster Cathedral in London, England. Born John Francis Bentley, he enjoyed sketching and architecture as a boy, but his father disapproved and found him a job as an apprentice with a firm of engineers in Manchester. In 1855, however, he moved to London and began a five-year indenture with a firm of architects. The following year, his father died and Bentley found a position in the offices of a well-known architect named Henry Clutton, who was a Roman Catholic convert. In 1862, Bentley took the same step, being baptised by Cardinal Wiseman at St. Francis's Church in Notting Hill, where he went on to design the baptistry, font and porch. In 1874, he married Margaret Fleuss, the daughter of a painter from Dusseldorf. They were to have four sons and seven daughters, but two of their children died young and are buried with their parents. From 1887 to 1892, he was responsible for the Church of the Holy Rood in Watford, Hertfordshire, built in the Gothic style. In 1894, Cardinal Vaughan asked him to design the new Roman Catholic Cathedral at Westminster, in the Byzantine style. In November of that year, Bentley travelled in Italy to study the architecture, but was taken ill in Venice and was unable to visit St. Mark's; nor did he go to Constantinople (formerly Byzantium), as an epidemic of cholera was raging in that city. He arrived back in London in time for the laying of the foundation stone on the 29th. June. Westminster Cathedral, which has the highest tower of any church in London (283 feet) and which can be seen in Hitchcock's film "Foreign Correspondent" is built of only brick, masonry and concrete. As Bentley said; "I have broken the back of that terrible superstition that iron is necessary to large spans." In 1898, Bentley travelled to America, in order to advise on the design and construction of the R.C. Cathedral in Brooklyn. In November the following year, however, he began to suffer from paralytic symptoms, which, by June 1900, robbed him of his speech. He died one day before his name was due to be submitted to the Royal Institute of British Architects for their Gold Medal, and eight years before Westminster Cathedral was consecrated. There is no monument to him in the cathedral, but there is a plaque in the church in Watford. His grave in Mortlake is three rows in front of Sir Richard Burton's mausoleum, and a few yards to the left (North) as you face the latter. The inscription begins: "For your charity, pray for the eternal soul of John Francis Bentley", but then becomes illegible; presumably, it goes on to name his wife. The left-hand side (South) bears the words: "Mildred Mary Bentley, Jan. 10th. 1886 - April 2nd. 1886" and the right-hand side: "Wilfred Bentley, Sept. 24th. 1881 - April 7th. 1888."

Bio by: Iain MacFarlaine


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Iain MacFarlaine
  • Added: 20 May 2003
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7470992
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for John Francis Bentley (30 Jan 1839–2 Mar 1902), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7470992, citing St Mary Magdalene Churchyard, Mortlake, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .