BARFF, FREDERICK SETTLE *
- Born: 1823 Died: 1886
Chemist, ecclesiastical decorator, and stained glass manufacturer, active in Ireland from the late 1850s until 1864. Frederick Barff, an Englishman, who was born in Hackney circa 1823,(1) started his working life as an Anglican curate in Hull. In 1852 he converted to Catholicism. By the mid 1850s he had set up an ecclesiastical decorating business, Mssrs. F.S. Barff & Co., in Duke Street, Liverpool, which was commissioned to supervise the decoration of the interior of St Patrick's church, Liverpool.(2) Some of the artists, The Tablet noted, had formerly worked on the Pompeian and Italian Courts of the Crystal Palace. By 1858 the firm had moved to - or perhaps opened a branch in - Dublin, possibly with the encouragement of Barff's near-contemporary and fellow convert JOHN HUNGERFORD POLLEN . It operated in Dublin until 1864, when it went bankrupt.(3) Most but not all of Barff & Co.'s work in Ireland was for Catholic churches. Barff gave a lecture on 'Decorative Art' to the Dublin Mechanics' Institute in 1860(3) and at around the same time patented a stone preserving process which won honourable mention at the 1862 International Exhibition.
After the collapse of his business, Barff returned to England. It may have been at this point that he became a teacher at Beaumont College, a Jesuit school in Windsor. He then taught chemistry at University College, London, and later became professor of chemistry at the Royal Academy of Arts and at Kensington Catholic University.
Barff died in 1886 and was buried with his wife Margaretta (née Bartlett) in Kensal Greeen Catholic Cemetery.(4) It is as a chemist that he is most widely remembered, thanks to his invention of a method of rust-proofing cast-iron with superheated steam, known, after it had been improved by George Bower, as the Bower-Barff method. The Bower-Barff Rustless Iron Co. had works in Southwark and New York, the latter supplying cast-iron for many of the city's landmark buildings.
RIAI: elected associate, 1864;(3) struck off 1866.(4)
Address: Potter's Alley, off Marlborough Street, 1863-64.(5)
A portrait photograph of Barff appears in The History of St Stanislaus College, Beaumont (1911) and a caricature of 1882 forms the subject of Punch's Fancy Portraits - No. 84 (information from Peter Howell, Oxford, Sep 2009).
(1) English census returns, 1861.
(2) The Tablet, 13 Oct 1854(or 1855), 647 (reference from Peter Howell); the firm also decorated the English catholic churches of St Wilfrid's, Preston, and St Mary's, Chelsea, and the chapel of Stonyhurst College.
(3) DB 6, 1 Oct 1864, 201.
(4) DB 2, 1 Jun 1860, 279.
(5) RIAI Minutes, 5,18 Feb 1864.
(6) RIAI minutes, 30 Oct 1866.
(7) Thom's Directory (1863).
16 work entries listed in chronological order for BARFF, FREDERICK SETTLE *
|Building:||CO. DONEGAL, ST JOHNSTOWN, CHURCH OF ST BAITHEN (RC)|
|Nature:||Stained glass, high altar and side altar with Pieta all by Barff workshop.|
|Refs:||DB 2, 1 Dec 1860, 368|
|Building:||CO. DOWN, GARGARY, DOLLY'S BRAE, CHURCH OF ST PATRICK (RC)|
|Nature:||Altar and tabernacle.|
|Refs:||DB 2, 1 Feb 1860, 204|
|Building:||CO. DONEGAL, NEWTOWNCUNNINGHAM, CHURCH (RC)|
|Nature:||Stained glass in chancel and W gable by Mssrs. Barff & Co., Dublin|
|Refs:||DB 2, 1 Jun 1860, 282|
|Building:||CO. DONEGAL, LETTERKENNY, LORETO CONVENT|
|Nature:||Stained-glass window in chapel.|
|Refs:||DB 3, 15 Aug 1861, 598|
|Building:||CO. DONEGAL, GLENVAR, CHURCH OF ST MARY STAR OF THE SEA (RC)|
|Nature:||Altar and reredos panels filled with enamel work by B & Co.|
|Refs:||DB 4, 1 Nov 1862, 282|
|Building:||CO. GALWAY, GALWAY, SEA ROAD, CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH|
|Nature:||Stained glass window|
|Refs:||DB 4, 1 Apr 1862, 74|
|Building:||CO. MONAGHAN, MONAGHAN, CHURCH SQUARE, CHURCH OF ST PATRICK (CI)|
|Nature:||East window in memory of Henry Robert, 3rd Baron Rossmore.. Design chosen in competition.|
DB 4, 15 May,1 Aug 1862, 127,201; St Patrick's Church, Monaghan (illustrated booklet published by St Patrick's Church post 2002),7(illus.);
|Building:||CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MEATH STREET, CHURCH OF ST CATHERINE (RC)|
|Nature:||E window and aisle altars; 'stereochromic' painting.|
DB 4, 1 Jul 1862, 172; Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 629.
|Building:||CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, ARRAN QUAY, ST PAUL'S CHURCH (RC)|
|Nature:||Decoration, including copy of Rubens's Conversion of St Paul.
DB 4, 1 Aug 1862, 199; 5, 1 Feb 1863, 18; Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 242.
|Building:||CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, PATRICK STREET, ST PATRICK'S CATHEDRAL (CI)|
|Nature:||Ascension window in S. transept, 1862 (not executed). Window in N transept. Celtic Revival clerestory windows, 1863.|
|Refs:||Irish Times, 25 Feb 1865; DB 4, 15 Jun 1862, 150; Nicola Gordon Bowe, David Caron & Michael Wynne, Gazetteer of Irish Stained Glass (1988), 15 (Neither of these is mentioned by Lawrence in Church of Ireland: The national and Collegiate Church of St Patrick, Dublin: Stained-Glass Windows (2001))|
|Building:||CO. CAVAN, MULLAGH, CHURCH (RC)|
|Nature:||Caen stone altar.|
|Refs:||DB 4, 1 Jul 1862, 171|
|Building:||CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, PARNELL STREET, NO. 093-94 (RYAN BROS. )|
|Refs:||DB 5, 1 Oct 1863, 166|
|Building:||CO. GALWAY, BALLINASLOE, CHURCH OF ST MICHAEL (RC)|
|Nature:||Stained glass window in apse.|
B 16, 4 Sep 1858, 607; photographs in
|Building:||CO. CARLOW, CARLOW, ST PATRICK'S COLLEGE|
|Refs:||B 16, 4 Sep 1858, 607|
|Building:||CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MARLBOROUGH STREET, ST MARY'S PRO-CATHEDRAL (RC)|
|Refs:||B 16, 4 Sep 1858, 607|
|Building:||CO. MEATH, ARDCATH, CHURCH OF ST MARY (RC)|
|Refs:||Christine Casey & Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster (1993), 164|