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STENT, Sydney

Born: 1845
Died: 1898 04 20

Architect


Was born in Warminster, Wiltshire, the son of an architect, WJ Stent. He trained as an architect and civil engineer in his father's office and in the office of WW Moore of Cheltenham to whom he was articled from 1863. He set up practice on his own account in Frome, Somerset in 1868 where he remained until he left for South Africa in 1869 arriving in Natal. He remained in Natal for only a few months before moving to the Cape Colony where he practised on his own for a time, probably in Queenstown. His son, Vere Stent the journalist and later the well-known editor of the Pretoria News, was born in Queenstown in August 1872. By 1873 Stent had been appointed resident architect in Griqualand West for the Cape Government for 'all such architectural works as were required' (FRIBA nom papers 1880). No works for this period have been recorded. According to his obituary in The Diamond Fields Advertiser, he had been engaged by the Government as an Engineer to plan bridges over the Orange River and according to the same source he had been appointed District Engineer for the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT in the Eastern Province by 1874. Stent remained District Engineer in the Eastern Province until 1885, living in Grahamstown. In 1877 he won the competition for the Grahamstown Town Hall (the tower had been designed earlier as the Settlers' Memorial Tower by John BRISLIN in 1870.) Stent also designed the town hall in Queenstown, the foundation stone of which was laid on 24 May 1882, which replaced the previous town hall building of 1858. In 1882 he submitted a design for the competition for Durban's first Town Hall under the pseudonym Measure for Measure (Martin 1980:137.) By this time he had a well-established practice in Grahamstown and took on apprentices one of which was DW GREATBATCH (c.1884). Greatbatch mentioned that he accompanied Stent to the Kimberley Diamond Fields in 1885, working for Stent before setting up practice there on his own account. According to Yuill (1984), Stent practised in Kimberley from 1893 until 1898, which dates coincide with statement that William WHITE-COOPER worked for Stent on the Grahamstown cathedral in about 1889. It is recorded that FK KENDALL worked for Stent in Cape Town in 1896. AG HOWARD mentions (SAA&E Jnl Sep 1907: 212 ff) that Thomas HITCHIN was the manager of Stent's office (probably in Kimberley since in 1893 Stent left to live in Cape Town) from 1892 until 1903. While in Kimberley Stent executed a number of well-known works, the best-known of which is probably the Kenilworth Village (1891) for De Beer's Mining Company, apparently at the instigation of CJ Rhodes (Yuill 1984:119). In 1893 Stent settled in Cape Town, designing several buildings in the city before dying there.

During his career Stent designed a number of churches for the Dutch Reformed Church. In these he mostly adhered to Free Gothic Revival style, popular at that time with the Dutch Reformed Church. Another characteristic of Stent's was his frequent use of natural stone which added a rugged quality to the simple forms employed.

He designed the altar for St Mary's Anglican Church, Johannesburg, Gauteng which is now in the English Church, Mayfair, Johannesburg.

FRIBA 1880. (Contree Jul 1981; Diamond Fields Advertiser 28 May 1898; FRIBA nom papers (1880) No 14, vol 6: May 1878-May 1888; Greaves 1987; Greig 1971; Heroldt 1988; Kesting 1978; Martin 1980; Men Cape 1906; Picton-Seymour 1977; RIBA Jnl 1897-98:402 obit; SAAE&S Jnl Sep 1907:212ff; SAWW 1909; The Building News 9 Jan 1891; UCT Libr PSB Gift; Yuill 1984)

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Books citing STENT

Brown, SM. 1969. Architects and others: an annotated list of people of South African interest appearing in the RIBA Journal 1880 1925. Johannesburg: Unpublished dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand. pp

Fransen, Hans. 2004. The old buildings of the Cape. A survey of extant architecture from before c1910 in the area of Cape Town - Calvinia - Colesberg - Uitenhage. Johannesburg & Cape Town: Jonathan Ball Publishers. pp 590

Johnson, Brian Andrew. 1979. An art historical study of the architecture of the Southern Cape Peninsula, 1880-1913 : houses and small business premises. : Unpublished Thesis UNISA. pp