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Francis Octavius Bedford (1784–1858) was an English ecclesiastical architect, who designed four Greek Revival churches in south London during the 1820s. He later worked in the Gothic style.

Francis Octavius Bedford
Former St George's Church, Wells Way, Camberwell, London (IoE Code 471458).JPG
Greenhithe, Kent


Life and careerEdit

Little is known about Bedford's early years.[1] In 1812–13 he was one of two draughtsmen (along with John Peter Gandy) who accompanied William Gell on an expedition sent to Greece and Asia Minor to record Classical antiquities on behalf of the Society of Dilettanti.[1][2] He is also known to have corresponded with Charles Robert Cockerell on the subject of Greek architecture.[1]

In 1818 Bedford was placed second to William and Henry Inwood in the competition to design St Pancras New Church.[3]

Bedford was the architect of four south London Greek revival Commissioner's Churches: St George, Camberwell (1822–24),[4] St John, Waterloo Road, Lambeth, (1823–24),[5] St Luke, West Norwood, (1823–25) and Trinity Church, Newington, Southwark (1823–24).[6] The designs were rather similar, a fact that provoked a negative reaction from some contemporary critics. Reviewing St John's in 1827, The Gentleman's Magazine commented "After the description of St. George's Church, Camberwell ... it will be unnecessary to go into a minute detail of the present edifice. The monotony of Mr. Bedford's designs has already been noticed under the head of that building, as well as Trinity Church, Newington."[7]

The four buildings (all of which survive) have a portico with a tower rising immediately behind it out of the body of the church, after the pattern of St Martin-in-the-Fields, although at Holy Trinity (now the Henry Wood Hall), standing in the southern part of a square, Bedford varied the formula by placing the portico against the long north side of the nave.[8][9] The interiors originally had flat ceilings and galleries supported on columns, although St Luke's was initially designed with a gallery at the west end only.[7] At St John's and St George's, Bedford used an unusual variant of the Doric order based on that of the Choragic Monument of Thrasyllus in Athens, with myrtle wreaths replacing the triglyphs on the frieze.[10] His other two Neoclassical South London churches used the Corinthian order, although one contemporary writer felt the version used at St. Luke's was so bare of ornamentation, that, to the untutored eye it more resembled the Ionic.[11]

Bedford later used a Gothic Revival style for churches, at St Mary-the-Less, Lambeth (1828),[12][13] St George, Newcastle-under-Lyme (1828),[14] Holy Trinity, Little Queen Street Holborn (1829–31)[15] Holy Trinity Church, Horwich (1830–31)[16] and St James, Ridding, Derbyshire (1832).[17] In 1849 he built, or rebuilt, a stuccoed house for Richard Arabin at High Beach, Essex.[18]

He exhibited drawings of Greek architecture at the Royal Academy between 1814 and 1817, and designs for Trinity Church, St. Giles's and A Chapel for a Cemetery in 1831 and 1832 respectively.[19]

He died at his home at Greenhithe, Kent on 13 March 1858.[20]


He married Sophia Curtis of Camberwell in 1814; she died, aged 43, in 1839.[21][22] His son Francis Bedford was a notable photographer, and his grandson Francis Donkin Bedford was an artist and book illustrator.

List of worksEdit

Gallery of architectural workEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Summerson, John (1962). Georgian London. Penguin Books. p. 224.
  2. ^ "Grecian Antiquities". The Literary Gazette. 2: 282. 1818.
  3. ^ 'St. Pancras Church', Survey of London: volume 24: The parish of St Pancras part 4: King’s Cross Neighbourhood (1952), pp. 1–9. [1] accessed: 31 May 2011.
  4. ^ Historic England. "Details from image database (471458)". Images of England. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  5. ^ Historic England. "Details from image database (204772)". Images of England. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  6. ^ Historic England. "Details from image database (47149)". Images of England. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  7. ^ a b "New Churches.—No. XII. St. John's Church, Waterloo Road, Lambeth". The Gentleman's Magazine. 141: 393–5. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  8. ^ Jones, Edward; Woodward, Christopher (1992). A Guide to the Architecture of London (2nd ed.). London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 285.
  9. ^ Historic England. "Details from image database (471419)". Images of England. Retrieved 6 March 2012.
  10. ^ Allen, Thomas (1827). The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Lambeth. London: J. Allen. p. 291.
  11. ^ Allen, Thomas (1827). The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Lambeth. London: J.Allen. p. 430.
  12. ^ a b "St Mary the Less Lambeth" (PDF). Diocese of Southwark.
  13. ^ Sir Howard Roberts and Walter H. Godfrey (editors) (1951). "Black Prince Road and Doris Street". Survey of London: volume 23: Lambeth: South Bank and Vauxhall. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 6 March 2012.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  14. ^ Historic England. "Details from image database (385967)". Images of England. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  15. ^ "New Churches.— No. XXXIII. Trinity Church, Little-queen-st. Holborn". The Gentleman's Magazine, and Historical Chronicle. CII: 9–10. 1832.
  16. ^ a b "Church of Holy Trinity, Horwich", British Listed Buildings, retrieved 18 June 2010
  17. ^ Historic England. "Details from image database (79087)". Images of England. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  18. ^ Bettley, James; Nikolaus, Pevsner (2007). Essex. Buildings of England. Yale University Press. p. 489. ISBN 978-0-300-11614-4.
  19. ^ Graves, Algernon (1905). A Dictionary of Contributors and their work from its foundation in 1769 to 1904. 1. London: Henry Graves and George Bell. p. 157.
  20. ^ "Obituary". TheGentleman's Magazine: 455. 1858. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  21. ^ "Marriages in and near London". The Monthly Magazine: 376. 1 November 1814.
  22. ^ "Obituary". The Gentleman's Magazine: 220. February 1839.
  23. ^ "Parish Churches – Church of England". Peckham History. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
  24. ^ "Waterloo, St John the Evangelist". The Diocese of Southwark. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
  25. ^ "History of Henry Wood Hall". Henry Wood Hall. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
  26. ^ "History: The Church Building". St Luke's Church, West Norwood. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2010.