Spencer was born at Cookham in Berkshire. From 1908 to 1912 he studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, where contemporaries included Paul Nash and Ben Nicholson. While still at the Slade Spencer began his celebrated series of biblical scenes re-enacted in the streets of Cookham. From 1945 to 1950 he made a series of paintings of the Resurrection, staged in Port Glasgow, where he had worked as a War Artist. Spencer's experiences of being in the army during the First World War were expressed in a series of murals for Sandham Memorial Chapel at Burghclere in Hampshire, painted between 1927 and 1932.