George Fellowes Prynne

 

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NEWTON FERRERS Devon
Holy Cross

The Building News of 22 September 1893 published a report, from which the following is extracted:

The church was placed in the hands of Mr. George H. Fellowes Prynne in 1885, and after a thorough renovation, which owing to the fearfully dilapidated state of the church almost amounted to a rebuilding, was re-opened on Tuesday February 23rd 1886.

The church is somewhat singular in plan. It consists of nave and chancel, short north and south transepts, with roofs running parallel to the nave… The chancel…has many beautiful remains of thirteenth-century work…

…A reredos in alabaster, designed by the late John D. Sedding, was placed in the church in 1884…

…The body of the church consists of a fine western fifteenth-century tower, divided from the nave by a lofty arch of the simplest detail. The western portion of the nave, about 40 feet in length, is of simple character without arcade. A triple arcade divides the eastern portion from the north and south transept, the eastern portion of the south aisle forming a Lady-chapel. Richly carved parclose screens fill the arches either side of the chancel. The fine old rood screen, small portions of which were found, had not yet been placed in the church, but the design for its restoration is shown in the illustration [not available]. The roof is in oak, of the usual Devon type of waggon-roof, with carved bosses at the intersections of ribs. Devon grey granite is used for the whole of the dressing throughout, including columns, arches, and window tracery, and local stone for the facing…

…With the many pieces of old oak found from time to time an interesting patchwork screen has been formed across the lower part of the tower-arch supporting the bell-ringers’ floor.

Font, chancel screen and all carved oak is by Harry Hems of Exeter. The total cost of the restoration was £3500.

Regret has been expressed in some quarters at the loss of so much of interest and value as a result of this restoration. However, faced with the need to retrieve the building from a parlous state, loss of parts of the ancient fabric was inevitable. The reader must judge for him or her self whether Fellowes Prynne was primarily a destroyer of historical artefacts, or a restorer sensitive to the past history of the building on which he was engaged, whilst taking it into the next century.