HADLOW DOWN, East Sussex – St Mark.

Restoration/reconstruction 1913

St Mark’s church was in need of a re-build, and in 1913 it was completed and consecrated.  It had been gifted to the small, rural parish by local benefactor Mr. Charles Lang Huggins, J.P., of nearby Hadlow Grange.

The Kent and Sussex Courier of 24 October 1913 described the new-look church.

While it has been erected on the side of the old edifice it has also been enlarged, the extension taking place at the east end, where a side chapel has been provided in the south corner.  The church is substantially built of stone, and its architectural features are impressive and imposing, and in their beautiful simplicity rather than their elaborate ornateness, testify to the good taste which has been shown in the choice of design.  The church furniture is in agreeable harmony with the architecture, and the highly effective chancel screen is an excellent illustration of the attractive and pleasing manner in which the various parts of the edifice have been constructed and furnished.  There is seating accommodation for 350 people, and chairs are provided for the congregation instead of pews.  The bell which hung in the old church has been erected in the north-east corner of the church, and a new one of beautiful tone hangs in the tower above the west end entrance.

The Sussex Agricultural Express of 31October 1913 ran a significant article about the church, its history, and the background to the re-build, from which this is an extract.

The existing church, unattractive as it was from our present day views of architecture and standard of art, had fairly strong and substantial stone walls both in the tower and nave.  The difficulty was, how to retain and make the best use of these in a new church, and the architect advised the retention of a considerable part of the tower and also a portion of the nave walls and the foundations, while entirely remodelling the design and adding a new chancel and sanctuary, small lady chapel and vestries.  The work was placed in the hands of Messrs. Miller and Selmes, builders, of Eastbourne, under the supervision of Mr. Fellowes Prynne, Mr. M. Mitchell acting as clerk of the works.  As the result of 18 months’ work we now see the new church of St. Mark’s which, while retaining certain portions and features of the older church, stands out as an example of how an existing building, unpleasing to the eye, can be converted into a more worthy and in many respects an original and beautiful church.

After a very detailed description of the building, the article continued:

The small lady chapel on the south side is furnished with a polished marble altar above which is a beautiful altar-piece picture painted by Mr. E. A. Fellowes Prynne, brother of the architect.  The first sketch for this picture, which is called the “Magnificat”, was exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1897, and the picture itself in the new gallery in 1898…  Mr. Huggins purchased this picture with a view of using it in his private chapel, but has now presented it definitely to S. Mark’s Church.

The oak chancel stalls were made by the firm of A. Robinson, of Westminster, as revealed in an advertisement in Examples of Modern Architecture.

Interestingly, here at Hadlow Down are to be found two altars of totally contrasting styles.  The smaller, Lady Chapel design is similar to those seen at St. George, Benenden, St Nicolas, Taplow  and at St Peter, Harrow. It is entirely of marble, and is not in the usual three panelled style. Instead, there is a central cross within a square, and rectangles either side of the square. At the point where the arms of the cross intersect, there is a circle. The circle is filled with a yellow coloured marble, the square and rectangles with a greyish colour. The cross and the rest of the framework of the design are in white marble. There is a platform, with integral tabernacle.  The high altar is in the expected three-part format. The decoration around the three panels is typical and there is again a platform and tabernacle. What is unusual about this altar is that it includes carved figures at either end, each in a niche. The panels are each occupied by a painting by Edward Prynne; the centre shows Christ in Majesty, and He is flanked by censer-waving angels. The effect is of great colour, as the light-coloured figures are set against a rich and vivid turquoise ground, setting off the detail of the figures and the carving.

The undated postcard shows the restored chancel and sanctuary. The second image is a close look at the detail in the postcard, and on the right hand side of the image can be seen the Lady Chapel altar, and above it, Edward Prynne’s painting.

Two photos show the high altar, and the Lady Chapel altar with the painting “The Magnificat” above.

The photo of the exterior is by Paul Farmer, from Geograph.org.uk