Francis Cranmer Penrose, architect, classical archaeologist and astronomer, was born on the 29th October 1817 at Bracebridge, Lincolnshire. He was educated at Bedford Modern School and later took his undergraduate degree at Magdalene College, Cambridge. In 1842 Cranmer embarked on a European tour that took in major cities such as Rome and Athens. Three years later and on his return to England, the Society of Dilettanti was determined to test Penrose's findings in Athens. Following a period minutely measuring Athenian architecture, Penrose established that what is apparently parallel or straight in Greek architecture of the Periclean period is generally neither straight nor parallel but curved or inclined.
In 1852 Penrose was appointed surveyor of St. Paul's cathedral. Penrose's attention soon turned to both astronomy (which he published on) and private architectural commissions that included the west front and river court gate at Magdalene College, Cambridge. His other projects included a private house in Wimbledon to be shared by Thomas Hughes and Ian Ludlow. Penrose was an associate (1846), fellow 1848), and president (1894-6) of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Penrose died at Colebyfield, Wimbledon, after forty years residence on the 15th February 1903.