George Webster – a Kendalian architect
The Webster name is almost synonymous with Kendal’s 19th century architecture. The names of Robert, Thomas, Francis and George Webster are linked with a multitude of buildings in Kendal and the surrounding towns and villages of Cumbria, as well as a number of buildings in Lancashire and North Yorkshire. George, his father Francis and brother Francis, were responsible for the building, renovation and remodelling of churches, houses, market halls, mansions, bridges and factories throughout the county, and most of their handy work survives to this day.
Francis Webster (1767 – 1827), founder of Websters, father to Francis Webster (1795 – 1882) and George Webster (1797 – 1864).
George Webster was born in Kendal in 1797, son to Francis Webster, a prominent local stone mason turned architect. In his architectural role, George was responsible for a diverse range of building projects, and often worked with his father and his brother Francis.
George Webster was Mayor of Kendal from 1829 to 1830, following in his father’s footsteps of being a prominent name in Kendal’s politics of the time.
The list of local buildings attributed to George, and sometimes jointly with his Father and brother, is long:
- The parish church of St Thomas on Stricklandgate, Kendal.
- The parish church of St George on Castle St, Kendal.
- The Roman Catholic church of the Holy Trinity and St George on New Road Kendal.
- The church of St Oswald in Burneside.
- The church of St Paul in Lindale.
- The church of St Leonard in Cleator.
- The church of St John in Grayrigg.
- The church of St Stephen in New Hutton.
- The church of St Mark in Natland.
- Kendal Gasworks – the remains of which now reside at Abbott Hall in Kendal.
- The façade of Kendal Town Hall.
- Remodelling work on Hutton-in-the-Forest.
- Remodelling work on Levens Hall.
- Remodelling work on Conishead Priory.
- The tower of the bank clock on Union Street in Ulverston.
- Castle Street cemetery chapel in Kendal.
- The Westmorland Bank (now HSBC) in Kendal.
- The National School in Kendal.
- Remodelling work on Ingmire Hall near Sedbergh.
- The New Ulverston Workhouse in Ulverston.
- The facades to what are now the Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Farrers and Ponden Mill in Kendal.
- The Trustees saving bank building in Kirkby Lonsdale.
- The row of houses called Thorny Hills overlooking Gooseholme in Kendal (collaboration with his father and brother)
- The building that now houses Barnardos in Kendal.
- The Working Mens Institute in Kendal.
- The Friends Meeting House in Kendal.
- Sandaire House in Kendal (the old Provincial offices)
- The building that now houses the Bridge House restaurant in Kendal (collaboration with his father and brother)
- Beezon Lodge in Kendal.
- Milnthorpe – St Thomas’ church
|Kendal – Gas Meter House façade||Kendal – Gasworks|
The old gasworks building by Francis Webster inscribed ‘Kendal Undertaking, 1825’ and ‘Ex fumo dare lucem’ (from smoke let light break out), with its classical frontage, two pillars, two Tuscan columns and a pediment. Originally in Parkside road, it was preserved when the gasworks was demolished in 1969 and moved in 1984 to the Abbott Hall site.
There are also a large number of buildings that are attributed to George Webster outside of Cumbria, namely in Lancashire and North Yorkshire – for example in Settle, North Yorkshire:
- The Town Hall in Settle.
- The Falcon Manor Hotel in Settle.
- Duke street terrace of three houses in Settle.
Article and photos by Matthew Emmott.
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