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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

John Pollard Seddon (1827–1906)

Architect and designer born in London. His father, Thomas Seddon, was a cabinet maker and his elder brother, also Thomas, a landscape painter. It was through his brother that John Seddon first met Ford Madox Brown and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Following Rossetti’s death in 1882, Seddon designed his memorial drinking fountain in Chelsea Embankment Gardens in front of his friend’s former home, 16 Cheyne Walk, while Madox Brown modelled the portrait bust which formed its centre-piece. Seddon had been articled to the neo-classical architect, T.L. Donaldson, but his formative influence was reading Ruskin’s Seven Lamps of Architecture. Seddon’s conviction thereafter was that Gothic was the only true Christian art, ‘most scientific and beautiful, and most in accordance with common sense’. Although principally an ecclesiastical architect, he was responsible for some significant secular designs, for example, University College, Aberystwyth (1864–86). One of Seddon’s most important ecclesiastical restoration projects (in partnership with John Prichard) was for Llandaff Cathedral, for which he persuaded the diocese to commission a triptych from Rossetti (1855–64). Of his independent designs, the most notable is perhaps the church of St Catherine, Hoarwithy, Herefordshire (begun mid-1870s), described in the ‘Buildings of England’ as ‘the most impressive Victorian church in the county’. Seddon also designed stained glass and furniture. In 1861, he designed an architect’s desk (King René’s Honeymoon Cabinet), which he got his father’s company, Seddon & Sons, to make, and Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co’s artists to paint – Madox Brown, Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones and Val Prinsep painting the figurative subjects for its ten panels, William Morris their decorative backgrounds. It was shown at the 1862 International Exhibition, South Kensington, and is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum (no. W.10:1 to 28-1927).

Bibliography: T.R. Blackshaw, ‘Seddon, John Pollard (1827–1906)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; A. Brooks and N. Pevsner, Herefordshire (The Buildings of England), New Haven and London, 2012, p. 363; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 10–14.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022