George Fellowes Prynne

 

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BATTERSEA London
St. Bartholemew

Description extracted from a report by Mr. Ashley Barker, drawn up on 14 July 1966, when the question of redundancy of this building was an issue:

A yellow stock brick building with red brick dressings and a little stone, this church does not reveal its true merits as seen from the two rather mean streets between which it is situated. It was built at the beginning of the present century to the designs of that extremely able church architect G. H. Fellowes Prynne…

The exterior is, as might be expected under the circumstances, rather severe. Nave and chancel are covered by a continuous brown tile roof with ridge of constant height, although their point of junction is marked by a brick projection above the roof slope and the lead-covered base of a fleche - either never built or since removed. The eastern gable has a five-light traceried window with three rose designs in the head and panelled motifs below the cill in stone. To the north of the chancel is the subsidiary gable of the vestry… the clerestory windows above the tilted slopes of the aisles occur as sets of three lancets, each bay marked out by a recessed arch which traces externally and in simplified form the treatment of the interior.

The interior of the building has a degree of nobility. It consists of a nave of five bays with aisles and a chancel of two bays; both nave and chancel under ceiled waggon roofs. There is no screen (a frequent characteristic of this architect’s work is a great choir screen) but there is a hanging rood and the chancel, raised a little above the floor of the nave, is separated by a low wall with steps in the centre only. The walls and arcade are in red and yellow brick. The arches are wide and only just pointed and the same wide arch is repeated, blind, in the clerestory to form panels within which the sets of three lancets per bay are set.

The furnishings to the chancel and high altar are good and there is a good altar with marble inlay at the east end of the north aisle. Baptistery nicely situated to the west of the same aisle.

The nave gains from having chairs instead of pewing.

The whole effect of this church is dignified, thoughtful and of fine proportion - the restrained and economical work of a distinguished designer. It deserves more detailed analysis than this and I think that efforts should be made to secure its future.

Despite this, and a further endorsement from the late Sir John Betjeman, the general view was in favour of demolition. However, the future of the building was secured, following successful negotiations with the Greek Orthodox Church. There have been internal alterations to suit the requirements of the Orthodox Liturgy, but the building is still undeniably Fellowes Prynne’s work.