HARROW, Harrow, London – St Peter. 


George Fellowes Prynne was the architect of this church.  The Harrow Observer of 18 April 1913 carried a substantial article about the dedication ceremony, which included the following description.

The building is impressing, devotional and beautiful, and marked by all the independence and individuality of Mr. Fellowes Prynne’s work.  Taking for its basis the English Decorated style, variations have been freely introduced to suit the necessities and circumstances of our own day and this particular case.  Mr. Fellowes Prynne is no slavish imitator, and his own individuality has been given free play in many directions – notably in the original and graceful traceries and other outstanding features.  The seating accommodation is for about eight hundred, and the cost has only run up to about £10,500, which is inexpensive as modern churches go, and all of which has been raised.  The building has been completed, but the plans show a tower and spire which may be added at some later date.  The walls have a massive effect, being faced with Kentish rag, with Bath stone quoins and dressings, relieved by occasional bands of red brick to match the red tiling of the roof.  The interior is of Bath stone and yellow Guiting, in alternate courses, finished, as ancient work so often is, with plaster.  The prevailing tint of the walls gives the interior a wonderfully sunny effect, which held its own even against the dullness of Saturday afternoon.  The roof-line is continuous, as in many West Country churches, chancel and nave having the same height, but an excellent effect of great practical utility is produced by sloping the floor of the nave upwards towards the West end, from the chancel steps, which gives the occupants of the back seats a much better opportunity of seeing and hearing than is usually vouchsafed to them.  The arches of nave and chancel are carried on polygonal pillars without capitals, whence the fluted arches spring directly, as in many Breton churches.  At the West end is a graceful Baptistery of exceptionally fine proportions, flanked on either side with spacious porches. 

The whole effect of the chancel and its furniture is wonderfully fine.  The altar, altar rails, choir stalls and parclose screens separating the chancel from passages for returning communicants, are all in oak after the architect’s designs.  Behind the High Altar is a handsome dossal, flanked with riddels, and carried to an unusual height, above which is the East window; the whole arrangement is very effective, and will be more so when the delicate traceries of the window are set-off with adequate painted glass.  The design of the High Altar, with its huge brass cross and candlesticks, is especially fine.  A beautiful little Lady Chapel, floored with mosaic and marble is separated from the chancel by the communicants’ passage, and the North Transept forms a larger nave to this when required for Guild meetings and the like.  The builders, who have carried out the difficult work in masterly fashion, are Messrs. Webster and Cannon, of Aylesbury.  Many of the articles in the the church are gifts from members of the congregation or from friends.  They include the solid brass lectern, the beautiful Communion plate, a ciborium of French work of rare grace and beauty, a sanctuary lamp in the Lady Chapel, and the furniture of the High Altar, as well as the High Altar itself.  The lofty proportions of the columns and arches of the nave have been gained by the omission of a clerestory, a daring but successful innovation in a church of this size; the needful lighting is secured by cleverly-designed windows of unusual size and squareness, the proportions of which are disguised by some graceful tracery.  On either side of the chancel are roomy galleries, the one for use as an organ loft, and the other as a minstrels’ gallery.  A large choir vestry, a roomy one for the clergy, and a smaller sacristy complete the arrangements of the church.  The sanctuary and pulpit, and low chancel screen are decorated throughout with rich marble of delicately harmonious colouring, which have a singularly beautiful effect.  The seats in the church are all free.

The church as envisaged by the architect can be seen in the image below of the exterior from Examples of Modern Architecture (1924) the text accompanying it saying:

This church, being placed in a forest of brick suburban houses, needs a spire to mark its position, but at present it has only been possible to build the main body of the Church, which however, is complete in itself for all working purposes.  It is faced with Kentish Rag stone, with pointed stone dressings.  The roof covering is of red Broseley Tiles.

The image below of the interior from the same publication has the text:

This is one of the latest designs, finished during the War.  One of the features of the interior, is the charming sunlight effect gained by the use of Guiting stone, the warm yellow tone of which, unfortunately, appears like dark bands in the photograph.  The Church accommodates some 800 adults.

The illustrations of the exterior and interior as first envisaged by the architect are from Examples of Modern Architecture no. 9 (1924).

The postcard showing the interior as it was built was posted in 1913.  The second postcard, posted the same year, shows the unusual rectangular pulpit.

I saw the interior shortly before internal rebuilding, and it had some notable features. As a change from red and white, the colour was given in contrasting ochre and white stone. The nave arches featured both colours, as did the walls.  There was a wall but no screen at the chancel entrance. The choir stalls, communion rails and high altar were in Fellowes Prynne’s standard oak designs, the altar having three sections, with the frontal behind the woodwork. The chancel wall and pulpit were of stone with coloured marble panels. The reredos in the Lady Chapel was again typical, being a triptych with the centre panel larger and with a curved top, creating a pleasingly balanced work. Externally the building is of grey stone with a little colour added by the use of brick and tiles.

At this church the War Memorial was the altar and reredos of a memorial chapel. The altar, still in situ, is of the style such as can be found at St. George, Benenden and St. Mark, Hadlow Down Lady Chapels. Above it, the reredos fits into an arch. It is in three panels, with a depiction of Christ’s ascension in the centre panel, and the names of the fallen to the left and right. The whole piece is in stone and marble, and is unlike anything else so far observed.

Heating was done by Kinnell & Co.

The church is now redundant. It has been converted for use as a social centre.

The chancel cross and aumbrey went to St. Michael’s, Tokyngton, Wembley: other items went to St. Gabriel’s, Cricklewood and to a parish or parishes in Norfolk.

Thanks are due to Mr. Barry Robbins for this information.

The photographs here are shared by kind permission of photographer John R Salmon, and show the building, with some architectural details, as it is now. The last image is of the magnificent War Memorial.