John Francis Bentley

(1839—1902) architect

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Doncaster-born English architect. He joined the London office of Henry Clutton, working on the Jesuit Church in Farm Street and on Clutton's delightful little church of St Francis of Assisi, Notting Dale, London, where he designed the high-altar, baptistery, and much else. In 1862 he converted to Roman Catholicism and set up his own practice, obtaining much work from his Church, including the Holy Rood, Watford, Herts. (1883–90), a firmly English mix of Second and Third Pointed Gothic, with an exquisite high-altar, reredos, Rood-loft, and Rood. His greatest building is Westminster Cathedral (1894–1903), an Italo-Byzantine building with a red-and-white striped exterior influenced by Norman Shaw's New Scotland Yard. An eclectic tour-de-force, other precedents were San Marco, Venice, San Vitale in Ravenna, the Romanesque Duomo in Pisa, the Domkirche (Cathedral Church) in Speier, Sant'Ambrogio in Milan, the Certosa in Pavia, and Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (Istanbul). Romanesque and Byzantine elements fuse, but the plan is not unlike Vignola's church of Il Gesù in Rome: the series of saucer-domes (constructed of concrete) recall those of St-Front, Périgueux.

Browne & Dean (1995);Hôpital (1919);Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004);Scott-Moncrieff (1924)

Subjects: Architecture.

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