George Fellowes Prynne

 

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EXMOUTH Devon
Holy Trinity

“Major reconstruction” entrusted to Fellowes Prynne 1905-7. It appears that then 1824 church was not well maintained, and had fallen into a state of disrepair, necessitating essential remedial action. This took 2 years and involved much rebuilding, summarised here:

  • External walls re-faced with Ipplepen stone
  • Mouldings, doorways and windows replaced with Bath stone
  • Window tracery and doors renewed, roofs reconstructed
  • Lady chapel added to north transept
  • Minstrels’ gallery, organ chamber, vestries and new west galleries built
  • Galleries in north and south aisles removed
  • Chancel lengthened by what is now the sanctuary
  • Heating installed by Kinnell & Co.

Windows were designed by Fellowes Prynne and executed by Percy Bacon Brothers, giving a united scheme to fit in with the rest of the rebuilding. Only those in the Lady chapel, and the great east window remain, the rest having been destroyed in World War Two.

There are some interesting points arising from this rebuilding work.

To quote Pevsner:

Holy Trinity was built in 1824, but has been completely and regrettably renewed in 1905 by the indefatigable Fellowes Prynne.

And, in a letter to a Mr. Shelmerdine (author unknown) date 16 October 1935:

The building is a fine one, but at the same time it has what I might call all the unfortunate mannerisms of its architect. It is undeniable that the late Mr. Fellowes Prynne did not understand a Gothic building, and it is quite natural perhaps that he should be influenced by the mistakes which had become common practice among those trained in Victorian times… There is the difficulty of the red sandstone exposed in the walls: we have some red exteriors in Devonshire, but none of these old builders ever left red showing inside. They knew better, for such an expanse of colour used in this way makes havoc of the other colours placed near it. I doubt very much if the colour in that chancel will ever look effective until this red stone has been whitened in the normal way. We have just the same trouble with the Victorian red brick interiors of the London district: they look far better when they are whitened.

Readers may be interested to compare notes with the account of Fellowes Prynne’s speech at the consecration of St. Saviour’s, Ealing, with regard to whitened walls!

From another (anonymous) perspective, the refurbishment

…not unfortunately involved much rebuilding and some addition… Best of all, the architect’s new design did away with the angularity of the old church and produced the graceful and magnificent unity of style.

Illustrated is a postcard of the interior of Holy Trinity church prior to the installation of the reredos. It was posted in 1910.