Byzantinist and curator in the Department of Architecture and Sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum 1948-1979. At age two Beckwith's mother died and his father, John Frederick Beckwith, abandoned him. His father lived anonymously in London's East end only discovered by Beckwith in his father's final years. Beckwith was raised by his paternal grandmother in Whitby, North Yorkshire, until she died in Beckwith's teens. Since Beckwith was Roman Catholic, he qualified for and was awarded a scholarship at Ampleforth College, a private Catholic boarding school also in Yorkshire.