Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Bodley, George Frederick
BODLEY, GEORGE FREDERICK (1827–1907), architect, born at Hull on 14 March 1827, was youngest son of William Hulme Bodley, M.D. of Edinburgh, who practised as a physician at Hull, by his wife Mary Anne Hamilton. The father, who traced his descent to the family of Sir Thomas Bodley [q. v.], and derived the surname from Budleigh (Bodley) Salterton in Devon, removed his practice from Hull to Brighton in his son's youth. At Brighton young Bodley met] as a boy George Gilbert Scott [q. v.], then a rising architect. One of Bodley's sisters married Scott's brother. Astudyof Bloxam's 'Gothic Architecture' roused Bodley's interest in the subject, and with his father's permission he became Scott's first pupil and went (1845-6) to reside with his master in Avenue Road, Regent's Park. The pupilage lasted five years and later brought him into association with Thomas Garner [q. v. Suppl. II], afterwards his partner. But Garner only joined Scott's office in 1856, when Bodley was twenty-nine years of age, and they were not, as is sometimes supposed, contemporary fellow pupils.
Bodley, who first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1854, had little opportunity of independent practice before 1860. He lived in Harley Street with his mother, and conducted his work, which he carried out almost single-handed, at home. His first work was the addition of an aisle to a church at Bussage in Gloucestershire for Thomas Keble [q. v.], brother of John Keble [q. v.]. This was rapidly followed by other com- missions, of which the chief were the churches of St. Michael and All Angels, Brighton ; of Stanley End, Gloucestershire ; of France Lynch ; St. Martin on the Hill, Scarborough (consecrated 1863) ; All Saints' in the same town ; All Saints', Cambridge ; St. Michael, Folkestone, and St. John the Baptist, Tue Brook, Liverpool (1869). Bodley also designed in 1869 a number of villas at Malvern and many parsonages. The representative ecclesiastical buildings which Bodley produced in the decade 1860-70 may be classed as his first period, though in certain points of style and development they differ vastly from one another. The Brighton church (St. Michael) shows the first revolt of a strong genius against its teacher. ' Tired of mouldings ' in his pupilage, he here sets himself to avoid their use and obtains an effect with flat bands and unchamfered arches which is surprising in its vigour. The church has since been altered by another hand. St. Michael's, Scarborough, comes nearer to the method of other English Gothic designers. It shows the influence of the French examples of the thirteenth century, but its details are original and by no means simple copies.
In 1869 Bodley and Garner formed a partnership which lasted until 1898. The offices of the partnership were in Gray's Inn, first in South Square, later in Gray's Inn Square, but both Bodley and Garner for many years personally worked out their own detail drawings each in his own house at Church Row, Hampstead. Between 1869 and 1884 the collaboration was as a rule so complete that it is impossible to differentiate the authorship of individual works. But in the later years of the union the two architects adopted methods of divided labour and gave individual control to separate works. On joining Garner, Bodley, by a spontaneous impulse and not by the prompting of his partner, developed in his work a freer and richer style which was later in its mediaeval prototypes. The two churches most typical of their style at this epoch are those of the Holy Angels, Hoar Cross, and of St. Augustine, Pendlebury. Outwardly the latter church (1874) owes its effect to its giant simplicity. It is constructed on the principle of internal buttresses, the narrow aisles being simply formed by piercings or arch- ways in stout walls which connect the nave piers with the outer wall. The tracery of the rich east window is an original development of fourteenth- century models. The church at Hoar Cross is an example of generous profusion in a small compass. It was built for the Hon. Mrs. Meynell Ingram, a patron who left the architects an unstinted field for the display of genius. Other churches of this period were St. Salvador's at Dundee, All Saints', Cambridge (opposite Jesus College), which is said to be the first fruits of the combination with Garner, and St. Michael's, Camden Town, a church which returns once more to earlier Gothic inspirations.
To Bodley's personal activity belonged subsequently the churches at Clumber and Eccleston, built respectively for the dukes of Newcastle and Westminster on the same munificent conditions as those prevailing at Hoar Cross. These churches Bodley claimed as his favourite works. To the same category belong the Community Church and other buildings for the Society of St. John the Evangelist, Cowley, Oxford ; the church of the Eton Mission at Hackney Wick ; Chapel Allerton, Holbeck near Leeds ; St. Aidan's, Bristol ; St. Faith's, Brentford ; churches at Homington and Warrington, and that of the Holy Trinity in Prince Consort Road, South Kensington.
Bodley rarely submitted designs in competition. In 1878, to his great disappointment, he failed to secure the building of Truro Cathedral, which fell to John Loughborough Pearson [q. v. Suppl. I]. Similarly he competed in the practically abortive (first) competition for the cathedral at Liverpool. An award was indeed made, the design of (Sir) William Emerson being premiated ; but the site and scheme were abandoned till 1903, when a new competition was instituted and Bodley was appointed one of the assessors. He had the satisfaction of joining in the selection of Mr. G. Gilbert Scott (grandson of his former master), with whom he was subsequently associated as consulting architect.
On both Oxford and Cambridge Bodley left his mark. He competed in vain for the Oxford ' Schools,' which were entrusted to Mr. T. G. Jackson, but the successful work done by Bodley & Garner (chiefly the latter) at Magdalen College, Oxford, was also the outcome of a limited competition, George Edmund Street [q.v.], Mr. Basil Champneys, and Wilkinson of Oxford being the rivals. With his partner, too, he built the tower at the S.E. angle of 'Tom quad' at Christ Church, and the master's lodge at University College, designing also the reredos at Christ Church. At Cambridge ho had the rare distinction of adding to Bang's College a group of buildings to which his name has been attached, and he built the chapel at Queens' College. Bodley & Garner's ecclesiastical building and decoration also included the cathedral of Hobart Town, Tasmania ; the churches of St. Germain and St. Saviour at Cardiff ; All Saints', Danehill ; All Saints', Leicester ; the Wayside Chapel at Woodlands, Dorset, and churches at Eckenswell, Horbury, Skelmanthorpe. Norwood, Branksome, and Epping. The firm engaged at the same time in some domestic and official work, which included River House, Tite Street, Chelsea (1879), and the school board offices on the Thames Embankment (since added to).
The dissolution of partnership in 1898 was a perfectly friendly separation not perhaps unconnected with Garner's reception into the Roman church. Subsequently in 1906 Bodley, who held several advisory appointments to cathedral chapters at York from 1882, Peterborough from 1898, as well as at Exeter and Manchester and was also diocesan architect for Leicestershire, was invited to prepare in conjunction with Mr. Henry Vaughan of Boston (Mass.) plans for the episcopal cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, Washington, a monster church to seat 27,000 persons and to cost from ten to fifteen million dollars. Bodley was already well advanced in his scheme when his death took place.
In 1882 Bodley became A.R.A., and R.A. in 1902. For many years he held aloof from the Royal Institute of British Architects, but in 1899 he received the royal gold medal, was elected a fellow, and served for two years on its council. In the same year he was appointed British representative on a jury to adjudicate on designs for the Francis Joseph Jubilee Memorial Church at Vienna.
Bodley, who in early life was energetic, even athletic, a good walker, a keen angler, and a passable cricketer, was struck down in middle age by a serious illness, due to blood poisoning contracted in the professional examination of some infected vaults, with the result that through later life he was troubled with lameness. This disability had little effect on his energy. From Hampstead he moved in 1885 to Park Crescent, thence (about 1890) to 41 Gloucester Place ; about five years later he took as a country home Bridgefoot House, Ivor, Bucks, which he forsook in 1906 for the Manor House of Water Eaton on the banks of the Upper Thames, where on 21 Oct. 1907 he died. In 1872 Bodley married Minna Frances, daughter of Thomas Reaveley of Kinnersley Castle, Herefordshire, and had one son, George Hamilton Bodley, who survived him.
Bodley fills an important position in the history of English ecclesiastical architecture. If Pugin, Scott and Street were the pioneers whose work went hand in hand with the Oxford movement in its early days, Bodley is their counterpart in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Between 1870 and 1880 he and his partner stood alone as experts in the propriety of internal church decoration, and thence to the end of his life Bodley was justly looked upon as combining ecclesiological knowledge with sound taste (especially in colour decoration) to a degree which few rivals could approach. A friend of William Morris, Burne Jones, Madox Brown and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, he secured their collaboration (as at St. Martin's, Scarborough) and imbibed their spirit. C. E. Kempe was started by Bodley in his career of glass staining, and the depot for the sale of fabrics and decorative materials opened in Baker Street under the name of 'Watts' was in great measure Bodley's own enterprise. Many a church designed by other architects gained its decorative completion from Bodley's taste. Even Butterfield's noble church, St. Alban's, Holborn, owes to him its font-cover and rood.
Among his pupils were Henry Skip worth, Prof. Frederick M. Simpson, and Messrs. Edward Warren, J. N. Comper, C. R. Ashbee, F. Inigo Thomas, and Walter Tapper. Sir Robert Lorimer was also for a tune in the office.
Impatient of ceremonies, avoiding when possible even the stone-layings of his own buildings, he was yet a gracious prime warden (1901-2) of the Fishmongers Company. Singularly deficient in ordinary business habits, he nevertheless contrived to complete in the most intricate detail a large number of important buildings, and though he observed his engagements punctually, he never kept a written list of appointments. Stories, mostly true, are told of sketches pencilled on cheques, and even of architectural drawings in a bank pass-book. Some of his apparent negligences in correspondence were intentional. Bodley would always have his own way in architecture, and if a client's letters were importunate, they would receive no answer. His drawings, excellent in their results, were not very beautiful in themselves, and he was no great sketcher; but he had an unrivalled power of absorbing and retaining in memory the features and details of any building he admired. Bodley published in 1899 a volume of verse, largely sonnets, neat in diction but of small poetic power. He was elected F.S.A. in 1885, and received the honorary degree of D.C.L. at Oxford at Lord Curzon's installation as chancellor in 1907.[R.I.B.A. Journal, xv. 3rd series, 13, 145, and xvii. 305; Builder, xciii. (1907) 447-8 (with full list of buildings); Graves's Royal Academy Exhibitors; private information from Mr. Edward Warren, F.S.A.]