George Fellowes Prynne

 

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ROEHAMPTON Surrey
Holy Trinity

Fellowes Prynne designed an imposing elegant neo-Gothic building, whose striking external appearance and enormous dimensions clearly held their own among the mansions and open spaces of the area.

The main body of the building is not unlike many of his standard designs, lofty and spacious, with lancet windows, and the same roof level all along. The tower adds a new dimension, reaching through the tapering spire to a height of over 200 feet.

The sense of space and beauty of detail is to be found equally, if not more so, inside the building.

The nave walls are of white and red brick, with the white predominating. The chancel and sanctuary are in red brick broken only by white stonework. Bath stone facing is to be found on the arches, and the pillars are also of stone. The roof is the typical simple barrel roof, with metal tie beams at intervals. The roof height is constant for the length of the building. There are five pairs of arches in the nave, each with a space above, and then a pair of clerestory windows. Above each main pillar is a corbel with a roof-supporting pillar springing from it. The main pillars are composite, with embellishments which are particularly delicate at the capitals. The arches lead at both north and south sides to side aisles. These are typical, with the sloping eaves of a wooden roof, and lancet windows. At the east end of the side aisles are, unusually, small stone screens. See details of the main stone screen here.

There is one transept, on the north side, from which leads an apsidal Lady chapel, very much in the architect’s usual style both internally and outside.

The chancel wall is a little different from Fellowes Prynne’s usual style, in that it has decorated panels rather than the more usual relief carving or marble inserts. It does not have a wrought iron screen upon it; this is placed higher up between the pillars supporting the stone screen. However, there is a pair of gilded wrought iron gates in the centre. The lectern is not Fellowes Prynne’s usual eagle, but is in a style worthy of the church. It is not known by the author whether this lectern is contemporary with the building. The pulpit most certainly is part of Fellowes Prynne's design, reflecting as it does the magnificence of the decoration in this building.

The chancel and sanctuary are, relatively speaking, short in length when compared with the length of the building. At least, this is the impression given, owing to the immense height of the structure. The area is a riot of colour and lavish embellishment. The red brickwork is contrasted with the white Bath stone surround of the east window, and is relieved on the either side of it by occasional horizontal bands of stone. The effect of the stained glass east window, itself a splendid example (along with the rest of the church’s windows) of the work of craftsman William Kemp, is rather diminished by the altar and reredos and adjacent stonework.

The baptistery is approached via a small screen and iron gates. It is located on the south side at the west end in a little apse of its own. The floor is of turquoise mosaic, similar to that seen in many of Fellowes Prynne’s Lady chapel sanctuaries. The font is of alabaster, resting on dark marble pillars similar to those of the pulpit. There is relief carving all around it, featuring Jesus with young children, and events in His own childhood. The font has a wooden cover suspended above it, similar in design to those at Staines and St. Austell. Above the colourful mosaic wall of the baptistery are stained glass lancet windows, faced with Bath stone, and also incorporating red brick. The roof is a ribbed dome, painted blue with gold stars, again similar to many Lady chapel sanctuary roofs. The screen and East window are clearly shown in this vintage postcard, sent 23 October 1918.

The altar and reredos

The reredos is flanked by stonework. For three quarters of the area, the stonework is of squares not unlike high relief tiles, each bearing a stylised four-petalled flower. (This is a motif observed on the chancel wall at the church in Stebbing, one of the mediaeval churches with stone screen, said to have been a source of inspiration to Fellowes Prynne.) Above the squares is an arcade with five coloured marble pillars, between which are four figures, on either side. The figures and their plinths are all part of the relief stonework. The reredos itself depicts two scenes from Holy Week, namely the Last Supper and the Crucifixion. The two scenes are surrounded by white stonework and coloured marble pillars, with a figure in a niche surmounting a cluster of marble and stone on each side. The structure comes to a point, inside which is a cusped arch. This arch surrounds the scene of Christ on the Cross, with His Mother and Saint John to His left and right, and outside them two groups of mournful angels. The figures are coloured, and the background of this stone relief is gilded, as are the haloes of the angels.

Below this scene is an alabaster canopy, under which is a depiction of the Last Supper. Eleven disciples are around the table, standing seated or kneeling, as Jesus instigates the Eucharist. One disciple, Judas Iscariot, is not taking any notice of what is going on and is walking away. There is lavish use of colour, as well as a marvellously realistic effect of draped cloth in the characters’ robes and in the tablecloth, all in stone relief work. This whole scene is surrounded by alabaster. The base of the reredos is a pattern of circles each containing eight gilded diamonds. Each circle corresponds to a section of the canopy above.

Both the canopy and the circle motif are reflected in the design of the magnificent altar. This artefact is a wonderful tribute not only to the design ability of George Fellowes Prynne, but to the artistic ability of his brother Edward, whose opulent paintings in predominantly gold and red depict Seraphim and The Lamb. The altar framework itself is of carved, coloured and gilded oak. Like most of Fellowes Prynne’s designs for altars, this is in three equal sections. The table is flat, with no tabernacle incorporated, but the exposed edge is richly carved and decorated in red and gold. The three sections are each framed with a multitude of detail, including cusped arches, elaborate bosses, and flanking each frame is a barley-twist gilded pillar.