Stephen Dykes Bower

The ashes of Stephen Dykes Bower, Surveyor of the Fabric of Westminster Abbey from 1951-1973, are buried in the Islip chapel in the Abbey. His stone, of Purbeck limestone, is next to the grave of his predecessor in office Sir Charles Peers. He died unmarried on 11th November 1994 and the stone was dedicated at his interment on 12th June 1995. The inscription reads:


He was born in Gloucester on 18th April 1903, a son of Ernest and Margaret (Sheringham). Sir John Dykes Bower the organist was his brother. After education at Cheltenham and Oxford a meeting with J. Ninian Comper helped him to decide to become an architect and he set up in practice in 1931. Among many works he designed a new high altar and American memorial chapel for St Paul's Cathedral and completed St Edmundsbury cathedral in Suffolk, although its tower was not finished until after his death. He was a lay canon at the cathedral. Under his surveyorship at the Abbey he had to deal with the repair of war damaged windows and houses in the precincts. He designed a new ceiling in painted mahogany for the Abbey lantern which had suffered damage in 1941. After an appeal for restoration funds had been launched in 1953 by Sir Winston Churchill a complete restoration of the interior was undertaken. Centuries of grime and shellac coatings were cleaned from the stonework and monuments were cleaned and repaired. Artist William Butchart painted and re-gilded many Elizabethan and Jacobean monuments and the organ screen and organ cases were coloured. The roofs and outer stonework were also cleaned and restored and the roof of the Jerusalem Chamber was restored due to extensive woodworm damage. Dykes Bower's Cosmatesque design for a new nave floor was not carried out. New Waterford glass chandeliers, the gift of the Guinness family, were installed in the nave and transepts and the cleaning was completed in time for the 900th anniversary of Edward the Confessor's foundation of the Abbey in 1965.

Further reading

"Stephen Dykes Bower" by Anthony Symondson, 2011

"Surveyors of the Fabric of Westminster Abbey 1906-1973. Reports and letters" edited by C. Reynolds, 2019

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004


18th April 1903


11th November 1994


12th June 1995




Islip Chapel

Memorial Type


Material Type


Stephen Dykes Bower
Stephen Dykes Bower

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Stephen Dykes Bower
Stephen Dykes Bower grave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster