John Loughborough Pearson

John Loughborough Pearson, architect and Surveyor of the Fabric at Westminster Abbey, was buried in the centre part of the nave of the Abbey, adjoining his predecessor Sir George Gilbert Scott. The memorial brass was designed by William Douglas Caroe, one of Pearson's assistants and was inserted in 1901. A depiction of the Crucifixion appears at the top of a long stemmed support and base with the words "Sustinuit et Abstinuit" (sustain and abstain) either side of the stem. The inscription round the border reads:

Here lieth John Loughborough Pearson R.A. Architect Surveyor to this Fabric. Born July 5 1817. Died Dec 11 1897

There was originally an outer border with badges of the four Evangelists at the corners but this has been lost and only the indent remains.

John was born in Brussels, a son of William Pearson, an artist, and his wife Nancy Ann (Loughborough). The family lived in Durham where he began his architectural training. Moving to London he designed new churches around the country and restored others. Truro Cathedral is perhaps his best known work. He married Jemima (d.1865 of typhoid), sister of fellow architect Ewan Christian, on 5th June 1862. Their only son Frank (1864-1947) also became an architect.

Pearson was Surveyor at the Abbey from 1879-1897. He practically rebuilt the upper section of the north front, changing the form of the rose window and cutting down some of the 18th century stained glass in this window. Restoration of the exterior also continued during his time. He designed the monuments to Dean Stanley and to Lord John Thynne in the Abbey, built two new houses in the Abbey garden and designed the organ cases. His plain oak cases were re-instated in 1959 and decorated in gold and colour by W. Butchart to a design by S.E. Dykes Bower. He built the present west porch of St Margaret's Westminster and the south east porch between 1892 and 1894 (according to an inscription within the western porch)

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

"Surveyors of the Fabric of Westminster Abbey 1827-1906. Reports and Letters" edited by Christine Reynolds (2011)

"John Loughborough Pearson" by A.P. Quiney, 1979.

Many of his drawings are in the RIBA collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London


5th July 1817


11th December 1897





Memorial Type


Material Type


John Loughborough Pearson
John Loughborough Pearson by Walter William Ouless

© National Portrait Gallery, London [Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0]

John Loughborough Pearson
J.L. Pearson memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster