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Fletcher, Sir Banister Flight

Fletcher, Sir Banister Flight (1866–1953). British architect, barrister-at-law, and architectural historian. The son of Banister Fletcher, he joined his father's office in 1884. His early work was noted for its quality: it included 111–25 Oxford Street, London (1887); part of King's College School, Wimbledon (1899); 20 and 46 Harley Street and 30 Wimpole Street, London (1890); Goslett's, 127–31 Charing Cross Road, London (1897); the charming monument to his father in Hampstead Cemetery (c.1900); St Ann's Vestry Hall, Carter Lane, City of London (1905); ‘Seldown’, 23 The Avenue, and ‘Tiverton’, pleasant houses in Potters Bar, Herts. (1909); and the handsome former Westminster Bank, Hythe, Kent (1912). After the 1914–18 war the works at Roan School, Greenwich (1926–8); the extensions to Morden College, Blackheath (1933); and the monumental Gillette Factory, Osterley (1936–7—which Pevsner described as having an ‘incongruous, timidly modernistic grandeur’) deserve note. On the whole, however, Pevsner adopted a respectful tone when commenting on Banister Fletcher's work.

Accomplished though his architecture was, Fletcher is better known as an author (jointly, with his father), of A History of Architecture on the Comparative Method (1896). The 1921 edition was rewritten by him and his first wife, Alice Maud Mary (d. 1932), and illustrated with the famous line-drawings by George Gilbert Woodward and others: it remained the basis for the 1924 and 1928 editions, and underwent textual revisions for the 1931 edition. The tenth edition of 1938, with its successors (only slightly revised), was definitive until Reginald Annandale Cordingley's (1896–1962) edition (1961), followed by others (1975, 1987, and 1996). This informative book, of vast scope (described by Pevsner as the ‘indispensable historical compilation of architectural history’), has been used by countless students of architecture since it first appeared, and has been translated into various languages. Other works by Fletcher include a much-criticized study of Palladio (1902), and books written with his brother, Herbert Phillips Fletcher (1872–1916)—Architectural Hygiene (1899), and Carpentry and Joinery (1898). The last volume and his Architectural Work (1934) were illustrated with his accomplished sketches. He did much to further the profession and education, and gave generously to the RIBA and the University of London. He was knighted in 1919.

Bibliography

A. S. Gray (1985);
Hanneford Smith (1934);
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004)

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