Sir Henry Royce

In the north aisle of the nave of Westminster Abbey is a memorial window for Sir Frederick Henry Royce, engineer and car designer. This is one of a series of stained glass windows in the nave designed by Sir J. Ninian Comper and each window depicts a King of England and a churchman or abbot connected with the Abbey's history. Comper completed the design just before his death in 1960 and the work was carried out by his partner John Bucknall. It was unveiled by Lord Kindersley, chairman of Rolls Royce Ltd., on 23rd October 1962 and the inscription at the base reads:

In memory of Frederick Henry Royce O.B.E. Baronet, Engineer. Born 1863. Died 1933

The window depicts figures of King Edgar (first king of all England) and St Dunstan (who brought monks to Westminster in about 960 AD). Sir Henry's coat of arms, and those of the city of Derby where his cars were made, are shown below.

Henry was born on 27th March 1863 at Alwalton near Peterborough, a son of James Royce, a miller, and his wife Mary (King). The family moved to London and after his father's early death he worked as a newspaper and telegraph boy. Then he was apprenticed in a locomotive works and many different jobs followed. In 1884, with a partner, he founded F.H. Royce & Co. In 1893 he married Minnie Punt but they had no children. His interest then turned to motor cars and Charles Stewart Rolls (died 1910), who ran a car agency, was so impressed with Royce's designs that they started the world famous partnership Rolls Royce. The Silver Ghost motor car was produced from 1907-1925, followed by the Phantom. At the outbreak of the war in 1914 Henry designed aero engines and one of these powered the bomber in which Alcock and Brown made the first Atlantic crossing west to east. After the war R.J. Mitchell's seaplanes, powered by Royce's engines, won the Schneider Trophy several times and Mitchell's wartime Spitfire fighter plane was fitted with Royce's Merlin engine. Henry was created a Baronet in 1930 and died on 22nd April 1933.

Further Reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004


27th March 1863


22nd April 1933


23rd October 1962





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Sir Henry Royce
Sir Henry Royce

[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Sir Henry Royce
Sir Henry Royce memorial window

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

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