22 Apr 2021

John Pollard Seddon (1827 – 1906) was a renowned English architect and designer who produced a prodigious number of architectural designs for buildings in Wales and London – 2000 of which are catalogued in the V & A Museum. He was also a gifted Arts & Crafts Furniture designer.

Seddon was born in London, into a family of renowned cabinetmakers and artists – his father built many of the antique dining chairs , bookcases, antique desks and wardrobes of Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. He was also the brother of Thomas Seddon (1821 – 1856), who started as a cabinetmaker before becoming a noted pre-Raphaelite artist. Richard wrote his brother’s memoirs following his untimely death, and forged firm friendships with Pre-Raphaelites Ford Madox Brown and D. G. Rossetti.

In 1847 Richard began an apprenticeship with the architect T. L. Donaldson, establishing his own practice in 1852. His first commission was a hotel in Mid Glamorgan. Here, he formed a partnership with architect John Prichard, who had worked for Pugin. For the next 10 years they were ecclesiastical architects in Llandaff, building and Restoring churches and other religious buildings. They also designed the War and Foreign Offices in Whitehall, for which they won an award.

Exhibition grade antique cabinets

Preston visitors to the Mediaeval Court at the London Exhibition in 1862 would have seen magnificent examples of Neo-Gothic Arts & Crafts Furniture, featuring work by the new company of Morris & Co. Many of the pieces were by Seddon, who had joined the Medieval Society in 1857. Although the Victorian dining chairs and sofas were heavily criticised, several of them found their way into early Morris commissions.

Victorian dining chairs in Lancashire

J.P Seddon became a prolific designer. As well as ceramics, stained glass and metalwork he designed Arts & Crafts furniture for Lancashire company Gillows, as well as his family’s firm. He also worked with E. W. Godwin and architect R.P Spiers, and was a tutor to C.F.A. Voysey.

Arts & Crafts Furniture enthusiasts in Preston can enjoy J P Seddon’s work by staying at The Grove hotel near Narberth, Wales. The antique bookcases, four poster beds and interiors of this property are extensively Seddon’s work.

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