[The following biography of J. D. Sedding is taken from Thomas Seccombe's entry on him in the 1897 edition of the Dictionary of National Biography uploaded to the Internet Archive by the State Central Library, Hyderabad, India. The only omissions are of "[qv]"s after the names of Edmund Sedding and George Edmund Street. Subtitles, links, images and a note have been added.

J. D. Sedding and His Wife Rose by Frederick W. Pomeroy, 1891.

Sedding, John Dando (1838–1891), architect, second son of Richard and Peninnah Sedding, and younger brother of Edmund Sedding, was born at Eton on 13 April 1838, and in 1858, like his brother, entered the office of George Edmund Street . He made a close study of ecclesiastical architecture and decorative work connected with churches. After his architectural training was completed he mainly confined himself to designing embroidery, wall-papers, chalices, patens, and other goldsmith's work; but in 1872 he achieved a success in planning the church and vicarage of St. Clement's, Bournemouth. Thenceforward his architectural practice steadily grew. In 1876 he made the acquaintance of and submitted sketches to Mr. Ruskin, who told him that "he must always have pencil or chisel in hand if he were to be more than an employer of men on commission." Sedding took this adjuration to heart. He endeavoured to form a school of masons and of carvers and modellers from nature, and succeeded in exerting a remarkable influence over his workmen by his vigilant interest in the details of their craft. He himself was tireless in drawing and studying flowers and leaves, and from such studies he derived nearly all his ornamental designs.

Elected F.R.I.B.A. in 1874, by 1880 he had an office in Oxford Street, London, and between that date and his death he built, among other works, the church of the Holy Redeemer at Clerkenwell; St. Augustine's, Highgate; St. Edward's, Netley; All Saints, Falmouth; St. Dyfrig's, Cardiff; Salcombe Church, Devonshire; the Children's Hospital, Finsbury; and Holy Trinity Church, Chelsea (unfinished). He became diocesan architect for Bath and Wells, designed the pastoral cross for the cathedral, and did much valuable work upon the churches of the diocese. He probably excelled in the additions and restorations which he executed in many of the small parish churches of the west of England, notably at Holbeton, Ermington, and Meavy in Devonshire; and in designing chancel screens, reredoses, altar crosses, and decorations he showed a happy originality.

He moved his residence in June 1888 from Charlotte Street to West Wickham in Kent, and became an enthusiastic gardener, with a strong prepossession for cut-yew hedges and arcades, and other topiarian devices, writing in 1891 his very suggestive Garden Craft, Old and New. Before it was published he died at Winsford Vicarage, Somerset (where he was engaged on some restoration) on 7 April 1891. A few days afterwards died his wife, Rose, daughter of Canon Tinling of Gloucester. Posthumously appeared his Art and Handicraft (1893), embodying his views on the claims of architecture, some of which had already been expounded in an original paper read before the Edinburgh art congress in 1889. Younger men in his profession derived much inspiration both from his work and from his utterances. Two black-and-white portraits are prefixed to A Memorial of John Sedding, privately printed, 1892.

Note: In his revised version of the biography in the current ODNB, Donald Findlay adds some important extra points, notably that Sedding "joined the committee of the Art-Workers' Guild at its founding in 1884 and became its second master (1886–7)," and that his chief assistant was Henry Wilson (1864–1934), who after Sedding's death completed several of his works." Findlay also gives a better introduction to Sedding's style and personality, pointing out that he and other pupils of Street — William Morris, Philip Webb, and Richard Norman Shaw — "reacted against Street's hard-edged style in favour of later, more gentle idioms," and describing him as having been "a simple, impulsive, warm-hearted man with a sense of fun." — Jacqueline Banerjee


Related Material


History.” Our Most Holy Redeemer. Web. 24 October 2011.

Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Street, London SW1: A Brief Guide. London: Holy Trinity Church, n.d.

Seccombe, Thomas. "Sedding, John Dando (1838–1891), architect." The Dictionary of National Biography (Scoffin-Sheares). Ed. Sidney Lee. London: Smith, Elder & Co, 1897. 19-23. Internet Archive. Contributed by the State Central Library, Hyderabad, India. Web. 4 September 2016.

Seccombe, Thomas, rev. Donald Finlay. "Sedding, John Dando (1838–1891), architect." The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Web. 4 September 2016.

Last modified 5 October 2011