ON MONDAY the Duke of Norfolk opened an exhibition in Westminster Cathedral of the work of the cathedral's architect, John Francis Bentley. It will be open daily from 10 am to 6 pm until June 5.
Organised jointly by Westminster Cathedral and the Victorian Society, the exhibition's principal aim is to increase public awareness of the work of the architect, who had an important practice from 1860 until his death in 1902.
It is also intended to assist in the fund raising for the cathedral appeal, both directly and indirectly. The profits from the 10p entrance fee and the sale of catalogues may be quite small compared to the expected gain in donations to the building repair fund resulting from an increased appreciation of the cathedral.
The first part of the exhibition traces the development of Bentley's early career from his beginnings in the High Victorian Gothic style, from his establishment as a leading designer of churches and church furnishings for the Catholic ['hardy, to his late style It contains some of his earliest drawings, dating from his studentship and early practice, and as representative a selection of drawings from over his whole career as has been possible. Drawings both for buildings — and, equally importantly — for applied art have been included.
The second half of the exhibition concerns the cathedral itself. A large number of the working drawings made by Bentley for the building are in the possession of the cathedral and these have never before been available to the public.
Bentley was a supreme draughtsman and these drawings are very beautiful in themselves. They have been selected and arranged so as to assist an understanding as well as an appreciation of this very complex building.