Bell, Charles

WM architect, born in Grantham, where he was educated at the Grammar School and then worked for a time for his brother's building firm. Articled to John Giles, he became an ARIBA in 1870, lived in Hampstead and practised in London. The practice designed over sixty churches, mainly WM and in the gothic style. Much of this work was concentrated in London and the south-east, and included in London, Rivercourt, Hammersmith (1875) Roupell Park (1879-80), Streatham (1882-3), and Bermondsey Central Hall 1900), as well as the restoration of Wesley's Chapel, City Road after fire damage and subsequent additions including the manse and Morning Chapel (1879-80); also Vale Road, Tunbridge Wells (1873) and Herne Bay (1885). Further afield his WM chapels included Tewkesbury (1877-8), Punshon Memorial, Bournemouth (c.1880), Poole (1886), Southlands, York (1886-7, unusually in Italianate) and Trinity, Workington (1890).

Despite being London-based he received a series of commissions in his home county of Lincolnshire, notably in Grimsby, including Duncombe Street 1872-3) and South Parade (1881). Perhaps his most significant commissions were the Wesley Memorial churches in Oxford (1887) and Epworth (1888). He also designed some non-Methodist churches, including Jewin Welsh Presbyterian, Islington (1878), Haverhill Old Independent (1884-5) and St. Augustine, Lee (1886). As architect to the Tottenham School Board he designed a number of schools for them and was also responsible for Kent College, Canterbury (1885).

The practice, continuing as Bell, Meredith & Withers, designed Wesley, Newquay (1904) and, as Meredith & Withers, developed an eclectic style, of which Raynes Park (1915) and Queen Street Central Hall, Scarborough (1922) are fine examples.

  • Directory of British Architects 1834-1914
  • Martin Wellings, 'The Building of Wesley Memorial Church, Oxford', in Chapels Society Journal, 2016, pp.21-5