Sir Charles Parsons
Died: 11 Feb, 1931
Field: Scientist; engineer
Location in the Abbey: Nave
Type of memorial: Window
Type of material: Glass

In the north aisle of the nave of Westminster Abbey is a memorial window to Sir Charles Parsons, scientist and marine engineer. The window, designed by Sir J.Ninian Comper, was unveiled on 5 October 1950. The large figures in the window represent Henry III and Richard de Ware, Abbot of Westminster. At the base is the inscription:

In memory of Charles Algernon Parsons O.M. K.C.B. F.R.S. marine engineer. Born Anno.Dni. 1854. Died Anno Dni. 1931

The heraldic achievements of Parsons and of the City of Newcastle upon Tyne are shown.

Parsons has been called the greatest engineer since James Watt. He was born in London, a son of William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse, and his wife Mary (Field). His brother Laurence later became the 4th Earl. Educated at Trinity college Dublin and Cambridge university he went on to found his own firm. His first turbo-dynamo was constructed in 1884 and his revolutionary turbines were fitted to all types of ships, including the Cunard ship Mauretania. He was knighted, admitted to the Order of Merit and elected to the Royal Society. In 1883 he married Katherine Bethell. Their son was killed in the 1914-18 war but their daughter Rachel became a naval architect. Parsons died aboard a ship at Kingston, Jamaica on 11 February 1931.

A photo of the window can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further Reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004.

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