John Peter Foster

The ashes of architect J. Peter Foster were buried in the west cloister of Westminster Abbey on 5th December 2010, he having died on 6th March that year, aged 90. The gravestone, in Elterwater green slate, was designed by Peter himself with Lida Kindersley, who executed the lettering. The inscription reads:

In memoriam John Peter Foster OBE 1919-2010 Surveyor of the Fabric 1973-88 and of his wife Margaret Elizabeth 1921-2009

He was born in Berkshire on 2nd May 1919, son of Francis, and the family owned the Black Dyke Mills in Bradford. At Eton college he developed his watercolour skills and attended Cambridge University and trained as an architect. During the war he served in the Royal Engineers and Guards Armoured Division. During the Normandy landings he defused mines and later took part in Operation Market Garden, ferrying troops from Arnhem across the Rhine. After the war he joined the Marshall Sisson practice, eventually becoming a partner, and they restored many war damaged buildings, including St John's church, Smith Square in Westminster. In 1944 he married Margaret Skipper, who is buried with him, and they had a son and a daughter. While the Abbey's Surveyor he supervised the major restoration of the exterior of the Abbey, except the western towers, with monies raised by the Westminster Abbey Trust. He also oversaw the cleaning and repairs at St Margaret's Westminster (monies raised by the Speaker's Appeal). In the Abbey he designed the memorial stone to W.H. Auden, a new grille around Elizabeth I's tomb and the case for the Queens Westminsters roll of honour among other items. His coat of arms can be seen in the large west window of the Lady Chapel. This contains shields and initials of those concerned in the Westminster Abbey Appeal for the restoration of the fabric which ran from 1973-1995.

Further reading

His Abbey files are kept in the Abbey archives


2nd May 1919


6th March 2010


5th December 2010




West Cloister

Memorial Type


John Peter Foster
John Peter Foster, surveyor (1990)

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2023 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

John Peter Foster
John Peter Foster grave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2023 Dean and Chapter of Westminster