J P Seddon, born in 1827, came from a family of creatives; his father, a cabinetmaker, and his brother, a landscape painter.
Although Seddon was heavily influenced by the philosophy of Gothic Revival and the works of John Ruskin, he trained under Thomas Donaldson, whom was more traditionally a neo-classical architect.
It was between the years 1852-63 that Seddon formed a partnership with John Pritchard. A vast majority of their work was on the restoration of churches, essentially a pair of ecclesiastical architects, most renowned for the commission of Llandaff Cathedral. Following this flourishing of his architectural practice, Seddon’s name became increasingly more popular due to the designing of the University College, Aberystwyth (1864-86), and from here, the promotion of Britain’s first bungalows.
A handful of locations Seddon designed for include; Chigwell Row, Essex; Great Yarmouth; Ayot St Peter, Hertfordshire; St Mary’s Church in Ullenhall; the Vicarage and Conservatory winter garden at Barrells Hall.
Needless to say, the restoration of the churches alone was not his only in which he specialised. His focus was also driven towards that of stained glass, metalwork, ceramics, furniture and other decorative arts.
His aforementioned brother, Thomas Seddon (1821-56), had a strong association with the Pre-Raphaelites, predominantly through his painting work. J P was acquainted with the likes of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Ford Madox Brown, whom he commissioned to do interior work for some of his building designs. The design for furniture was on occasion a collaboration between the artists. A good example of this is the oak cabinet, ‘King Rene’s Honeymoon Cabinet’, which is currently housed in the V&A museum. This was constructed using Seddon’s design, and the Pre-Raphaelite painter’s panels to be featured on the surface of the cabinet as decoration, a representation of mediaeval furniture.
1904 marked the end of a twenty-year partnership with John Coates Carter. Needless to say, this Diocesan Architect was once more on the rise with a grand commission. An addition to Westminster Abbey was in the pipeline; Imperial Monumental Halls with a 168meter tower. The purpose of this renovation was an effort to reinstate the dominance of the Abbey, alas due to insufficient funding, the building never materialised.
It should be noted that between 1874-79, architect CFA Voysey, was in fact one of Seddon’s pupils.
Seddon’s word on Gothic Architecture- ‘most scientific and beautiful, and most in accordance with common sense’, (Building News, 1858).
Researched and written by Tony Geering & Kristy Campbell.