The partners of the original firm of Lavers and Barraud, formed in 1858, were Nathaniel Wood Lavers (1828–1911) and Francis Philip Barraud (1824–1900), who had both previously worked for James Powell at Whitefriars. Lavers, who was a member of the Cambridge Camden (or from 1845 Ecclesiological) Society, set up on his own in 1855, and Barraud joined him three years later. In the early days, one of the firm's chief designers was Henry Stacy Marks (1829–1898); another was Alfred Bell (1832-1895) of Clayton and Bell. Among others who designed for them were Henry Holiday (1839-1927) and Nathaniel Westlake (1833–1921).

Described by Joseph Mordaunt Crook as "a hungry young artist from Hampshire" (153), Westlake originally worked mainly with the architects William Burges and J.F. Bentley, as well as with Alfred Bell. According to Crook, he met Lavers and Barraud in 1860 through Burges (153). His friendship with Bentley is described by Bentley's daughter, Winefride de l'Hôpital, in relation to his work with her father on the church of St Francis of Assisi, Notting Hill, London. Through Bentley, who was converted to Catholicism and baptised in that in that very church, Westlake too became a Catholic.

Association with Lavers and Barrraud set Westlake firmly in the middle of a rarefied design world, at a time when the stained-glass industry was booming (see Cheshire ix). For his part, Westlake's "knowledge of medieval art, Pre-Raphaelite style and simplification of previously over-elaborate drawing" contributed greatly to the firm's "fame and success in the 1860s" (Campbell 21). Westlake later "became a partner and finally the sole proprietor" of the firm (de l'Hôpital 354).


As a leading Gothic Revival designer and authority on stained glass, Westlake wrote a comprehensive four-volume History of Design in Stained and Painted Glass, which was reprinted in facsimile as recently as 2002. Although he designed numerous stained-glass windows all over the country, his best-known work is probably a stunning early panel entitled "The Vision of Beatrice," shown at the stained-glass exhibition at the South Kensington Museum in 1864; it is still there at what we now know as the Victoria and Albert Museum, and can be seen on the Museum's website (see bibliography). Other acclaimed work is at Cardiff Castle. Westlake is celebrated not only for his stained-glass windows, but also for the beautiful interior painting of such Catholic churches as St Francis of Assisi, mentioned above, St John the Baptist, Brighton, and the Church of the Sacred Heart, Hove. — Jacqueline Banerjee.

Links to Related Material


"Architcts and Artists — L." Sussex Parish Churches. Web. 9 November 2016.

Campbell, Gordon, ed. Encyclopedia of the Decorative Arts, Vol. 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Cheshire, Jim. Stained Glass and the Victorian Gothic Revival. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2008.

Crook, J. Mordaunt . William Burges and the High Victorian Dream. Revised and Enlarged Edition. London: Francis Lincoln, 2013.

de l'Hôpital, Winefride. Westminster Cathedral and Its Architect. 2 vols. Vol. 2, The Making of the Architect. London: Hutchinson, 1919. (Available in the Internet Archive).

"The Vision of Beatrice" (Victoria and Albert Museum site). Web. 10 November 2016.

Last modified 10 November 2016

Last modified 11 May 2024