BOGNOR REGIS, West Sussex – St Wilfrid.
The Bognor Regis Observer of 1 November 1905 reported on George Fellowes Prynne’s explanation of the plans for the church thus:
The site was decidedly a good one, he said, giving several points of approach. He proposed that the main entrance should be in Ellasdale Road, with a tower over the centre of the building. The font would be at the west end with a gallery over it, which would be useful for an overflow congregation and for children. The chancel arch which would be formed in the nave giving a better view. [sic] A transept on the Ellasdale Road side could form a side chapel for special services and guild meetings and would hold 60 or 160. He had also arranged for a sacristy, choir and clergy vestries, as well as a side gallery for an invisible choir, which would be useful for ladies when the ordinary choir was not available. He estimated that the chancel chapel and vestries would cost £2,800 (which he recommended should be done first) another section, with transepts and nave £3,200 and the western end £4,165, while another £1,000 would be needed for a tower making a total of £11,000 or £12,000, and providing accommodation for 886 people.
Many typical Fellowes Prynne features are here. The red brick/white stone of the walls is both structural and decorative. It is a large enclosed space with Early English style arches, again using contrasting brick and stone to colourful effect. Chancel walls are present, but no screen, though a hanging rood was intended. (See illustration below.) The furniture, and the dado surrounding the pillars, were stained green at my visit in the 1980s, a detail rarely retained these days, but clearly the architect’s intention. (See notes on St Saviour, Ealing.) The church’s heritage website at St. Wilfrid’s Church Heritage Site – Bognor Regis has images suggesting the green staining has been superseded.
In the 1920s the Lady Chapel altar rails were added at a cost of £32. This chapel contains windows fashioned by Messrs. Percy Bacon Brothers, implying that Fellowes Prynne at least supervised their design, if not designing the windows himself. This information is from Robert Eberhard’s comprehensive website on Church windows, which also gives details of Faculties and sources. The home page is Church Stained Glass Windows (stainedglassrecordings.org.uk)
The architect’s son, Norman, is remembered in a sedilia-style War memorial in the Lady Chapel, as an old boy of Holy Rood School. (This memorial is not by Fellowes Prynne.)
Incidentally, Pevsner, rarely easy to please when it came to Fellowes Prynne’s work, described this building as
hard and heartless also… Unfinished: no loss.
The postcard showing the exterior of the church was never posted, but is clearly not of the twenty-first century! The card of the interior, also not sent, is almost certainly from about the time of the consecration.