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John Seely, Lord Mottistone

Henry John Alexander Seely, 2nd Lord Mottistone, of the architect firm of Seely & Paget, re-built several of the houses in Little Cloister, Westminster Abbey, after war damage. They also re-built the Deanery which had been blitzed in 1941.

In a niche in the wall of one of these clergy houses overlooking St Catherine's chapel garden in the Little Cloister is a fibreglass statue of St Catherine by Edwin Russell which forms a memorial to Lord Mottistone. The Latin on the plaque below, which is flanked by two seahorses, can be translated:

John Mottistone. This is a sign of love and sadness. P.E.P. 1966 A.C.D.

The initials are those of his partner Paul Edward Paget and the Dean of Westminster at that time, Alan Campbell Don. The statue was unveiled on 25th November 1966.

He was a son of John Seely, 1st Baron Mottistone, politician, and his wife Emily and was born on 1st May 1899. After education at Harrow School and Cambridge he served in the Great War. A brother was killed at Arras in 1917. During the Second World War he served in the Auxiliary Air Force and at the Ministry of Works. In 1947 he succeeded to his father's title. He was Surveyor to the Fabric at St Paul's Cathedral, architect to St George's chapel, Windsor Castle and a Lay Canon and architect at Portsmouth cathedral. Among the other buildings Seely & Paget restored after war damage were Lambeth Palace, Eton College and many London churches. He died on 18th January 1963 and was succeeded in the title by his brother Arthur. He is buried in the family vault in the Cheke Chapel at Mottistone church.

The statue is in a private garden but can be seen through the door of St Catherine's chapel when the Little Cloister is open to the public Tuesdays-Thursdays.

Further reading

Drawings for their rebuilding work at the Abbey are in the Surveyors drawings collection in the Abbey archives

The gardens of his residence on the Isle of Wight, Mottistone Gardens, are open to the public

Born

1st May 1899

Died

18th January 1963

Memorial

25th November 1966

Occupation

Architect

Location

St Catherines Chapel Garden; Little Cloister

Memorial Type

Statue

John Seely, Lord Mottistone
John Seely, Lord Mottistone statue

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2020 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Related commemorations

You are surrounded by history at the Abbey, not like a museum where it’s just displayed, but here you are standing where history has happened.

Gerlinde - Abbey Marshal

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