The postcard illustrated was sent in October 1906. The barrel roof looks very
new – and chairs are indeed in situ! The card predates the Chandos Pole
The drawing for the Chandos Pole memorial rood and figures was
originally submitted to Dart and Francis. They returned it on 7th July
1920, unable for some reason to do the work. The memorial was eventually
carved by the firm of Herbert Read of Exeter.
Fellowes Prynne's thoroughness when undertaking the restoration of a church
was evident to all who worked with him. As an example, here is the full
text of a letter Fellowes Prynne wrote to the incumbent, the Rev. F. E. Coope,
concerning the seating in the church. It should be borne in mind when reading
the letter that by “seat” Fellowes Prynne means what we would nowadays usually
call a “pew”.
6 Queen Anne’s Gate
March 23: 1904
Dear Mr. Coope,
I am sorry that it is impossible for me to be present at the meeting to be
held on Thursday, when, as I am informed, the subject of the seating of your
Church is to be discussed, and I should much like to have again put my views
before you on the subject in person. In the first place, I must disclaim any
prejudice in favour of seating, or chairs, as such; and if I hold strong views
in the present instance, it is solely because I feel that the proposition that
has been made to use the existing seats in the new church, if acted upon, would
be a very great mistake from an artistic point of view. I can fully understand
the prejudice that exists in favour of seats, more especially by those who have
not been accustomed to chairs, or whose experience has been with some of the
cheap and uncomfortable chairs that are unfortunately used in some churches.
If the Restoration Committee could afford to furnish the church with good
oak seats, not too heavy in character, there could be no objection whatever to
the use of such seats, which would be in character with the restoration work
that has been carried out in other aspects with such thoroughness, although even
then, the Architectural proportions of your church would not be seen to the same
advantage as if chairs were used.
It is such a well known matter of fact, (that it is perhaps hardly
necessary to repeat it), that chairs do not dwarf the effect of a Church in the
same way as seats do. However, if really good oak seats were proposed, I should
certainly not have advised adversely to their use, but the proposition at
present being considered, is the use of extremely poor deal seats used for a
time in the old Church, and I am asked as the architect responsible for the
restoration of your beautiful old church to advise as to the best course to be
adopted. As I feel that the intrusion of such utterly unworthy seating would be
a blot on the interior effect, and entirely out of keeping with your restored
church, I cannot do otherwise than most strongly advise that they should not be
used in any part of the Church.
But independently of the fact of the inappropriateness of their use, there are
insufficient seats to seat the whole Church, and there is surely no-one who
would advocate the making of new seats to the pattern of the old. Or again,
could anyone really seriously advocate the mixture of old seats and new chairs
as reasonably artistic treatment?
In the first, sufficient new seats, made to the pattern of the old, would
probably cost as much as new chairs for the whole church, and in the second case
of mixed seats and chairs, the effect would be wholly inharmonious,
poverty-stricken, and patchy – as an alternative, I do most strongly advise the
use of chairs (the pattern of which you have), throughout the church, and for
1st – Chairs will cost at least three times less than good oak benches.
2nd – if chairs are ever replaced by oak seats, the chairs will always have a
marketable value, whereas the deal seats would have little, or no other value
than use as firewood.
3rd – The chairs, if properly fixed and spaced, are unquestionably comfortable,
and have the great advantage of preventing crowding. Only the exact number of
people as there are chairs in a row can be accommodated, thus the crowding in of
an extra person or child is prevented, and each person always has his, or her,
own allotted space.
4th – The same type of chairs as the specimen you have, has been used of late
years in numerous churches, and in every case that I have had to do with, with
complete satisfaction. Of the numerous churches I have built and restored during
the last 12 years, in all except three cases chairs have been used.
At Sampford Courtenay, as in other cases, there was at first a strong
prejudice against chairs, but when in actual use, the chairs have entirely
overcome prejudice, and are much preferred to the old benches.
But in advising the use of chairs, I always insist upon careful fixing,
spacing, and a comfortable 4 inch kneeler, (not a thin pad), as the comfort of a
chair, both for sitting and kneeling, depends in great measure upon proper
attention to these details.
I can only add that my one great wish is that the restored church may be
such as all interested may be proud of; and I am sure that all will forgive me
in opposing anything that would in my humble opinion mar the good effect of the
I am yours very truly,
Geo: H. Fellowes Prynne