Bentley, John Francis

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b. 30 January 1839 Doncaster, Yorkshire, England
d. 2 March 1902 Clapham, London, England
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English architect who specialized chiefly in ecclesiastical building, especially Roman Catholic churches.
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Bentley's work was of high quality, particularly with regard to the decorative materials and finish. Notable among his churches was the Church of the Holy Rood (begun in 1887) at Watford, which is in Gothic Revival style, with fine decorative materials.
Bentley's chef-d'oeuvre is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Westminster in London: begun in 1895, the shell was completed in 1903. He based the banded pattern of the exterior upon the Italian medieval cathedrals of Siena and Orvieto, but at Westminster the banding is in red brick and white stone instead of marble. The cathedral interior is Byzantine in style, with pendentive construction. Built of load-bearing brick, with the saucer domes inside being made of concrete strengthened with brick inserts, there is no steel reinforcement: in choosing this type of structural material, Bentley was more closely following ancient Roman technology than modern use of concrete. The intention was to have all surfaces clad in mosaic of marble, but sadly only a portion of this has yet been achieved.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Bentley was nominated in 1902 to receive the RIBA Gold Medal but died before the presentation ceremony.
Further Reading
W.de l'Hopital, 1919, Westminster Cathedral and its Architect, Hutchinson.
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Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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