Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Abel, John

ABEL, JOHN (1577–1674), was a distinguished architect of timber houses. He built the old town halls of Hereford and Leominster; the former destroyed in 1861, the latter in 1858. Both are illustrated by John Clayton in his ‘Ancient Timber Edifices of England,’ fol. 1846. The Hereford building was finished in the time of James I; that of Leominster in 1633. The following account of Abel is given by Price (Historical Account of Leominster, 1795): ‘The most noted architect in this country of his time; he built the market houses of Hereford, Brecknock, and Kington, and did the timber work of the new church at Abbey Dore. The said John Abel being in Hereford city at the time when the Scots besieged it, in the year 1645, made a sort of mills to grind corn, which were of great use to the besieged; for which contrivance and service King Charles the 1st did afterwards honor him with the title of one of his majesty's carpenters. This architect, after he was ninety years of age, made his own monument, which is in Sarnesfield churchyard, and engraved his own effigy, kneeling with his two wives, and the emblems of his occupation, the rule, compass, and square, and he made the following epitaph:—

This craggy stone or covering is for an architect's bed,
That lofty buildings raised high; yet now lyes down his head:
His line and rule, so death concludes, are locked up in store,
Build they who list, or they who wist, for he can build no more.
    His house of clay could hold no longer:
    May Heavens frame him a stronger.
John Abel.
        Vive ut vivas in vitam æternam.’

He died in 1674, aged 97.

Price's Historical Account of Leominster, 1795; Nagler's Allgemeines Künstler-Lexicon; Duncomb's History and Antiquities of the County of Hereford, 1804.

E. R.