EALING, London – St Saviour.
This is the church Fellowes Prynne built in the area where he and his family were settled. It was demolished in 1940 after having been bombed, but a large memorial crucifix remains in the vicinity.
We are fortunate that George Fellowes Prynne’s output coincided with the hey-day of the production of the picture postcard. Six cards are reproduced below, and give us an idea of what some of the features of this church were.
From the first postcard of St Saviour’s, dated 1907, a good deal of detail can be described. The church had many of what can be regarded as typical Fellowes Prynne features: red brick contrasting with white stonework, used to distinctive effect in the nave and at the chancel arch; a stone chancel wall; an elaborate sanctuary with raised high altar; the use of green wood stained chairs and attractive electric lighting; the wooden barrel roof giving a sense of space and loftiness. The Rood screen was in fact a Rood beam – a decorated beam straddling the width of the chancel, with the rood set upon it in the centre. The design left a clear view from the nave, above the chancel wall, to the high altar. It appears from the postcard that the altar had painted panels, which were therefore likely to have been the work of Edward Prynne. The second postcard illustrated, used in 1915, clearly shows more details, including the pulpit, and an altar very similar to that at St Peter’s, Staines. The third (undated) and fourth (1912) vintage postcards show the chancel and sanctuary again, but from the side, giving a splendid view of the “stacked” saints and also the lofty Rood and figures. The fifth postcard shows the detail of the beautiful baptistry and font. The sixth postcard, this time of the exterior, was sent on 23 December 1907 as a Christmas card. The somewhat stark appearance is in dramatic contrast to the lavish interior.
See also St John Sidcup for an illustration of the “stacked” saints there.
The six postcards referenced above are illustrated below.
The local paper the Middlesex County Times (17 June 1899) described the consecration of the new church:
Notwithstanding the imposing interior of the new church, its length of nave, breadth of chancel, height of roof and dignified east end, some regret was felt by the large congregations which attended the three celebrations of Holy Communion in the old church at their leaving, for the old church has been endeared to them by long use. Although they did not confess it they found the permanent church new and strange. They all agreed, however, in admiring the altar with its high dossal of white and crimson silk; its tall cross and candlesticks; its beautifully designed frontal and its hanging sanctuary lamps.
At the luncheon after the service, the Chairman said that they
…had had an architect who had left upon his work the marks of his genius as an artist and his devotion and knowledge as a Churchman; and the architect’s design had been executed in brick, stone and wood by a most competent and conscientious builder, and by faithful, industrious and skilful artisans and labourers (cheers).
As an aside, it is worth quoting from the report of the Bishop’s reply to the Chairman’s speech:
The Bishop of London, who had to leave early to keep another engagement, said it was the unfortunate part of a bishop’s office that he was continually being reminded that he was a nuisance and was continually being placed in the position of having to make himself a nuisance. The fact that he had to get away had made it necessary that they should be disturbed in the enjoyment of their luncheon by the commencement of the speeches and that their vicar should speak against the rattle and clatter of knives and forks. This difficulty did not apply to him in the least degree, for he already had that experience without which no human being had sunk to the lowest depths of despondency – the experience of making a speech in the House of Lords – (laughter) – and anybody who has faced that ordeal could face any other to which a man could be subjected (laughter).
The health of the architect was proposed. He had given the town
…a church of noble proportions, simply dignified, and effective, well-lighted, well-warmed, well-ventilated and with excellent acoustic properties.
Mr Fellowes-Prynne [sic] said oratory was not one of the essential qualifications of an architect, and he should not trouble them with many words, but there were one or two things he must say. In the first place, an architect was very much dependant upon those who worked under him… To deal with another point: One of the greatest difficulties of architects was the inevitable Building Committee – (laughter) – but he would assure them that he had never worked more happily or harmoniously with a committee that he had done in this case… The clients of church architects varied. Some – and happily they were the majority – had for their sole end aim the glory of Almighty God; but there were others who were not contented with whitewashed walls for themselves, but wanted to bring everybody else down to their whitewash level – (cheers and laughter). Church architects, if they were worthy of the name, were not ashamed of the symbol of their religion – (cheers) – and they wanted to build churches in which the people who entered would see the great symbol and would be led on under that rood, under the Passion of Jesus, feeling that they must pass under the sorrows of Christ before they could enjoy the highest blessings of heaven – (cheers). It was only such feelings which could inspire or help forward the architecture of the future.
The speaker on behalf of the builders said that the congregation had
…got a beautiful church, and a cheap one – (laughter) – and he hoped they would all be spared for a long time to worship in it (cheers).
A detailed description of one of the windows was given in The Builder of 8 October 1904:
A large south transept window has just been erected in St. Saviour’s Church, Ealing. It consists of three lights and a vesica-shaped tracery opening over centre, representing early scenes of the Incarnation. The key-note is struck by the angel in the tracery, who holds the text “The Word Was Made Flesh.” Each light is divided into compartments surrounded by tabernacle work of lace-like appearance, and white and silvery in tone, thus isolating each subject and forming a suitable framing. The subjects treated are “The Annunciation, ”The Visitation,” The Nativity,” and “The Adoration of the Angels, Shepherds and Magi.” The subjects are treated conventionally, not as pictures, so that the window retains its character as decorative work in glass. The work was designed and executed by Messrs. Percy Bacon and Brothers, of London, under the supervision of Mr. G. H. Fellowes Prynne, consulting architect.
As well as the Bacon Brothers, a formidable list of contractors was involved in this building:
- H. H. Martyn (figures & carving)
- Tanner (mosaic, granite & marble)
- J. Jones & Son of Farringdon Street (heating)
- A. Stalman of Portman Square (dossal & altar hangings)
- Laing, Wharton & Down of New Bond Street (electric lighting)