John Abel

John Abel

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John Abel

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John Abel (1578/9 — January 16751674 O.S., recorded in the parish register that shows he was buried 31 January 1674/5 (Howard Colvin, Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, 3rd ed. 1995, s.v. "Abel, John"; Colvin notes that the date was inadvertently miscut as 1694 when the inscription was renewed in 1858).) was an English carpenter and mason, granted the title of 'King's Carpenter', who was responsible for several notable structures in the ornamented Half-timbered construction typical of the West Midlands

John Abel was born in Sarnesfield, Herefordshire. He was a Catholic recusant, along with his wife Johanna. In 1618 he was brought before a church court to answer for his recusancy and also for his secret marriage to Johanna. The case against him was eventually dismissed, but his name can be found on a list of Catholic recusants from 1640.

Abel married twice, but there is no record of his second wife except on his table tomb in Sarnesfield. He had one son, named John, who later became churchwarden of Sarnesfield.


Very little is known about Abel's work, and some local traditions attribute buildings to him that are impossible in terms of their date. Abel's first known commission was in 1625 when he was contracted to build Lady Hawkins' grammar school in Kington. The contract was to fit into the terms of the...
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