John Francis Bentley

BookJohn Francis Bentley

John Francis Bentley

Architect of Westminster Cathedral

Victorian Architects


May 21st, 2020

Access Token


Other Formats



This is the first biography of John Francis Bentley (1839-1902), best known as architect of Westminster Cathedral, since his daughter Winefride de l’Hôpital’s Westminster Cathedral and its Architect (1919). Bentley was born in Doncaster, Yorkshire, and went to London to work in the office of Henry Clutton, a distinguished High Victorian architect who became a Roman Catholic in 1856. Bentley also converted, and, after setting up his own practice in 1860, came to be widely recognised as the best Catholic architect of his time. He built comparatively few complete churches, but did extensive work in adding to and furnishing other architects’ churches. He had remarkable skill in the design of woodwork, metalwork, stained glass, and organ cases, all of which are covered in the book. His finest parish church is Holy Rood, Watford, but the climax of his career was the commission in 1894 to design Westminster Cathedral, which was almost complete when he died in 1902.

'To know what else to see to understand this endlessly creative architect, Peter Howell supplies a comprehensive list.'Christopher Howse, The Telegraph

'Peter Howell, who has been researching Bentley all his adult life, shows a man who began with a love of Gothic but who reached his apogee, at Westminster, with the greatest of all the country's Byzantine creations.'Ancient Monuments Society

'This stylishly produced monograph... [offers] a comprehensive list of Bentley's work and a bibliography short enough to show how little has been published on this great man, outside a few sources in the specialist press.'British Institute of Organ Studies

'Peter Howell's book fills the gap [of up-to date study of Bentley] handsomely. Concise and readable, it embodies the authority of the writer's life-long devotion to 19th-century Catholic architecture without the least pedantry.'Andrew Saint, The Art Newspaper

'Bentley is remembered as a church architect and, above all, for Westminster Cathedral, but Howell's comment that these interiors 'are beyond doubt among the most splendid and carefully thought out produced in the 19th century' is an apt recognition of the breadth of Bentley's creative genius.'
Ken Powell, Ecclesiology Today

‘This is an excellent book, authoritative, clearly written, and attractively designed. A list of Bentley’s works in all media is included, together with notes, a bibliography and a helpful index. The illustrations are of high quality and included representative examples of Bentley’s stained glass.’
Michael Kerney, The Journal of Stained Glass

Author Information

Peter Howell is Honorary Research Fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
1 John Francis Bentley9
2 Architectural principles and practice31
3 Church buildings37
4 Additions to churches53
5 Church furnishings57
6 Church restorations71
7 Secular buildings79
8 Stained glass95
9 Metalwork105
10 Woodwork115
11 Organ cases119
12 Westminster Cathedral127
List of works151