One of the great ‘Gothic Revival’ architects, J.T Micklethwaite was born in Wakefield in Yorkshire a son of James Micklethwaite, a colliery owner, and his wife Sarah (Stanway). His childhood was spent at Hopton Hall, where the family had lived for more than two hundred years. He attended King’s College London and in 1862 was articled to George Gilbert Scott, the famous Victorian architect. In partnership with Somers Clarke he designed several churches – including our church of All Saints’ – and restored others.
In 1893 he became Master of the ‘Art Worker’s Guild’ – the year after the Consecration of All Saints’ Church – and succeeded William Morris to the post. (The Guild was founded in 1884 at the Charing Cross Hotel and its aims were, and still are, to advance education in all visual arts and crafts and to foster and maintain high standards of design and craftsmanship in a way that might be beneficial to the community.)
He was a prominent lecturer for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and carried out the first conservation campaign for Kirkstall Abbey in the 1890’s.
Micklethwaite became Architect and surveyor of Westminster Abbey in 1898, succeeding J. L. Pearson, and devoted himself to the preservation of the fabric of the Abbey and its buildings. He designed the Abbey frontal, copes and the new altar in St Edward the Confessor’s chapel for the coronation of Edward VII in 1902. In 1900 he was also made architect to St George’s chapel, Windsor.
He never married and died in 1906. At the funeral the Dean of Westminster said of him “… he gave his whole heart to this place, and jealously guarded every fragment that could tell of its long history”. His sister Ada gave money to set up an Abbey Museum in the monastic Undercroft in 1908. Mickelthwaite is buried in the West Cloister of the Abbey
During his lifetime he was architect for many English churches – many of which were specifically designed for Anglo-Catholic Worship.