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Sir John Ninian Comper (June 10, 1864December 22, 1960) was a Scottishmarker architect. He was one of the last of the great Gothic Revival architects, noted for his churches and their furnishings. He is well-known for his stained glass, his use of colour and his subtle integration of Classical and Gothic elements.


Comper was born in Aberdeenmarker, the eldest of five children of Ellen Taylor of Hull and the Reverend John Comper, Rector of St Margaret of Scotlandmarker. He was educated at Glenalmond School in Perthshiremarker and attended a year at the Ruskin School of Artmarker in Oxfordmarker. On moving to London, he was articled to Charles Eamer Kempe, and later to George Frederick Bodley and Thomas Garner.

His ecclesiastical commissions include a line of windows in the north wall of the nave of Westminster Abbeymarker; At St Peter's Parish Church, Huddersfield baldachino/ciborium, high altar and east window in memory of the dead of the Great War; St Mary's, Wellingboroughmarker; St Michael and All Angels, Invernessmarker; the Lady Chapel at Downside Abbeymarker, Somersetmarker; the ciborium and House Chapel extension for the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Oxfordmarker (now St Stephen's House, Oxfordmarker) and St Cyprian's, Clarence Gatemarker, Londonmarker. Comper is noted for re-introducing the 'English altar', an altar surrounded by riddel posts. Comper designed a number of remarkable altar screens (reredos), inspired by medieval originals. Wymondham Abbeymarker, Norfolk, has one of the finest examples.

Only one major ecclesiastical work of Comper's is in the United States, the Leslie Lindsey Chapel of Boston's Emmanuel Church (Episcopal). The work is an all-encompassing product of and testimony to Comper's design capability, comprising the entire chapel, its altar, altar screen, pulpit, lectern, dozens of statues, all its furnishings and appointments, and most notably the stained glass windows, crafted by Comper himself. For all the other work the finest Gothic-revival style craftsmen were engaged, the project under the direction of Campbell, Aldrich and Nulty of Boston. The chapel memorializes Leslie Lindsey and Stewart Mason, her husband of ten days, who were married at Emmanuel Church and perished when the Lusitania was torpedoed in 1915.

Married to Grace Bucknall in 1890, from 1912 he lived in London at The Priory, Beulah Hillmarker, a house designed by Decimus Burton (1800-81), where he entertained friends such as John Betjeman. He had a studio nearby at Knights Hill, close to the Gothic Cemetery of West Norwoodmarker. After the studio was destroyed in WWII it was relocated to a building in his garden, which had previously been used by his son, Nicholas Comper (1897-1939), to design aircraft.

Comper was knighted by King George VI in 1950.

In 1960 he died in The Hostel of God (now Trinity Hospicemarker) in Clapham. His ashes are buried beneath the windows he designed in Westminster Abbey.



  • A. Symondson and S. Bucknall, Sir Ninian Comper, Spire Books, 2006 (

Anonymous, "Lindsey Chapel: Its History & Architecture", Emmanuel Church in the City of Boston, 2009 (

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