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Benjamin FERREY, F.S.A., F.R.I.B.A: 1810-80

Benjamin Ferrey was born 1st April 1810 at Christchurch, Hants, the youngest son of Benjamin Ferrey Snr (a Mayor of Christchurch). It is believed the family were Huguenot French in origin. Benjamin Jnr was educated at Wimborne Grammar School. His parents noted his extraordinary drawing talent and he was sent to London as a pupil of Auguste Charles Pugin (1769-1832). Benjamin studied alongside Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-52), the elder Puginís son, and Talbot Bury.

An Example Drawing

Benjamin toured the Continent in his early 20s and after further study under William Wilkins, set up in practice in 1834 located in Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, in a house subsequently demolished to make room for the British Museum. In 1836 Benjamin married Ann Lucas. Their eldest child was Alicia, then Benjamin Edmund Ferrey FSA, FRIBA (1845-1900) and lastly Annie, born 1847.

He was one of the earliest members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), of which he was twice Vice-President, and a Royal Gold Medallist in 1870. He was Honorary Secretary to the Committee of Architects for the competition for the Houses of Parliament and one of the consulting architects of the Incorporated Church Building Society. In 1841 he became Diocesan Architect to Bath and Wells until his death.

At Christchurch Priory he was the architect for the crossing pulpitum (1848) and undertook restoration of windows in the nave gallery and vaulting in the porch (1862). Ferrey's friend, Augustus W. N. Pugin, designed the high alter in 1831 in the form of a 'medieval table'. The 'high church' Ferrey wrote of this work "though admirable as a piece of carving, it was wanting in ecclesiastical expression". He was also responsible for the two chapels ('Conformist' and 'Dissenters') and archway entrance at the Jumpers Road Cemetery (1858) described by Pevsner as "Ferrey at his best: solid and severe Gothic... with no gimmicks".

Ferrey was an exceptionally fine draughtsman and amateur of church music and invented and patented a method of stamping plaster. He was the author, with Edward Wedlake Brayley, of Antiquities of the Priory Church of Christchurch, Hants (1834), an early example of the then new archaeological approach to medieval buildings, and the somewhat unreliable Recollections of A. N. Welby Pugin, and his father Augustus Pugin (1861).

In 1836 he was commissioned by Sir George William Tapps-Gervis to develop his Westover Estate in Bournemouth, including the Westover Villas (1836-1840) and the Bath Hotel (1837-8), as a somewhat utopian marine village. He also did much restoration work at Wells Cathedral and the Bishopís Palace there.

John Norton, the architect for the Gothic re-modelling of Tyntesfield in 1864, was a pupil of Ferrey. Ferrey built up an enormous architectural practice in which, in his later years, he was assisted by his son, Benjamin Edmund, who also became an architect. Benjamin Ferrey died 22 Aug 1880 at 55 Inverness Terrace, London.

For further details of Ferrey's contribution to architecture and his unique biography of A. W. N. Pugin, the reader is referred to the splendid article by Rosemary Hill 'Benjamin Ferrey: Biographer and Architect' published within Volume 2 Number Two of 'True Principles' - the Journal of the Pugin Society. Further details can be found at www.pugin-society.1to1.org.

Significant Works in Hampshire and Dorset

The Conformist's Chapel at the Jumpers Road Cemetery

Tarrant Hinton Rectory (1836); Dorchester County Hospital (begun 1839); St Thomas of Canterbury, Compton Valence nave (1839-40); Clyffe House, Tincleton (1842); All Saints, Dogmersfield (1843); All Saints, Dorchester (1843-5); St Mary, Winterborne Whitchurch nave rebuilt (1844); St Stephen, Baughurst tending to historical accuracy (1845); Christ Church, Melplash (1845-6); St Barnabus, Swanmore (1846); St Osmond, Osmington most except tower (1846); St Boniface (New), Bonchurch, Isle of Wight (1847-8); Dorchester Town Hall (1847-8); St John the Baptist, Plush (1848); Facade to Stafford House, West Stafford (1848-50); St John Evangelist, Tincleton (1849); St Mary, Eling "ruthlessly thorough" restoration (1863-5); All Hallows, Whitchurch heavy external restoration (1866); Christ Church, Colbury & vicarage (1870); St Mary, Bransgore chancel only (1873); St John the Evangelist, Holdenhurst alterations and chancel (1873); St Mary, Tarrant Hinton chancel (1874) and Holy Trinity, Dorchester (1875-6).

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The Dissenter's Chapel at the Jumpers Road Cemetery

Notes by Fraser Donachie, information sourced from Pevsner's 'The Buildings of England', the Royal Institute of British Architects and Hilary Ferrey-Groves, to whom special thanks are extended. The image is supplied by Hilary Ferrey-Groves. An article on Benjamin Ferrey entitled 'One of the Great Unknowns' appeared in 'Dorset: the county magazine' No 60 (1977) by Nancy Somerville.

Obituaries: American Architect v8, 25 Sept 1880, p153; American Art Review v1, 1880, p555; Building News v39, 3 Sept 1880, p261-2; Builder v39, 28 Aug 1880, p276; Builder v39, 4 Sept 1880, p281-3; RIBA Transactions 1879/80, p219-21.

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Home Page |Membership |Committee Members |The Millenium Trail |The Local History Room |The CLHS Journal |Christchurch Castle |Historical Map Resources |Benjamin Ferrey - A Biographical Note |Events Programme 2008/09 |VE Day Remembered |Books and Publications |A.W.N. Pugin and Christchurch I |A.W.N. Pugin and Christchurch II |Articles from the Journal I |Articles from the Journal II |Articles from the Journal III |Membership Form |Historical Overview |Natasha Kaplinsky |The Goldwyers of Somerford |Message Board and Guestbook - How To Use Them |Links for Christchurch Local History Society |Message Board |Guestbook |Mail Form