F.C. Penrose Project

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F.C. Penrose Project

Sponsored by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation

Francis Cranmer Penrose (1817-1903) was an architect, classical scholar, founder of the British School in Athens, astronomer, and Surveyor to the Fabric of St Paul's Cathedral for 45 years during the second half of the nineteenth century.

The Cathedral holds around 380 architectural drawings by Penrose and his team of designers and draughtsmen, and these drawings have been catalogued  with the assistance of a grant from the Delmas Foundation.

The drawings held in the Architectural Archive were created by Penrose in the course of his long tenure at the Cathedral and mark a period of immense change to the decorative embellishment of the interior. These changes were informed by the collective mid-Victorian vision of the cathedral clergy, and they provide a unique record of both the building in the late nineteenth century, and the ingenuity and inventiveness of the Surveyor himself.

The catalogue of his drawings provides an integrated set of records concerning his work on the building and will be an important resource for research into the history of the Cathedral and the processes of architectural design, commission and interpretation. The Cathedral also holds transcripts of Penrose's Annual Reports to Dean and Chapter (the originals are held at Guildhall Library), and a number of objects and models designed by Penrose.

His work included the replacement of the crypt floor with a scheme of mosaic decoration, the extension and re-arrangement of the choir, and the introduction of stained glass into the eastern arm of the cathedral. These works did not just change the appearance of the building, they were part of a complete re-articulation of the liturgical space and the experience of worship in St Paul's. Whilst some of Penrose's schemes were never approved by the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's, others, particularly the re-ordering of the choir, have given the cathedral some of its most famous interior vistas; in particular, the uninterrupted view from the west end of the triforium to the east. In addition, Penrose was responsible for the exterior landscaping project of the 1870s, which led to the discovery of the remains of the pre-fire St Paul's cathedral. 

View all Penrose drawings