KEA, Cornwall – All Hallows.
Here is one of the most interesting of Fellowes Prynne’s churches. It has a feeling of balance and poise both inside and out, which is greatly to do with the fact that it was completed as the architect originally intended.
The ground plan is basically rectangular, with irregularities to accommodate vestries, the sanctuary and a south transept. There is also a porch and, at the west end, a tower. The building is similar in concept to Fellowes Prynne’s most successful “town” churches such as Staines and Roehampton but, located as it is in the heart of rural Cornwall, it is a little less imposing in scale and colour than these.
The exterior is faced in local stone, with Bath stone and granite providing contrast. The stonework is more random that many other examples, with the use of large and small blocks. The overall colour is a mixture of yellowish-cream and light grey, with a natural weathering which succeeds in giving the building a suitably rustic feel. (Compare this with the brickwork of St. Peter, Staines or the grey stonework of St. Peter, Budleigh Salterton.)
The rustic theme is furthered by the delightful wood-on-stone porch, with its decorated gable and simple leaded windows. The basic construction of this closely resembles Fellowes Prynne’s typical design for a lych gate, such as that at St. Peter, Staines, with the exception that there is glazing in the woodwork, and the roof details are not on view. Instead of visible tie beams, the gable end is decorated with carved pierced woodwork. None other of Prynne’s churches displays this particular feature.
The tower supports a copper spire, so often seen on original plans, but so rarely carried out.
The interior displays many of the standard features described elsewhere. The nave has three arches either side, with octagonal pillars. The roof trusses spring from corbels above the pillars. The roof itself is not Fellowes Prynne’s usual type of barrel roof, but is open with the trusses and frames visible. There are no tie-beams either, unlike the larger buildings. There is no chancel wall; there used to be one, but it was removed in 1988 and reused below the organ chamber as, according to the guide book, it was not part of Fellowes Prynne’s original design (which surprised me considerably – and I remain unconvinced!). There are the usual elaborate oak choir stalls, and coloured encaustic tiles on the chancel floor. The chancel arch reaches the roof, and is highlighted by the use of dark grey and cream stone blocks alternately all around. This banding is also used for the transept arches off the chancel.
The sanctuary has red, yellow and green tiles in elaborate patterns on the floor, but its chief treasure is the magnificent altar. This is a classic Fellowes Prynne altar design, with five panels, a step and a central tabernacle. The five panels house paintings by Edward Prynne of angels, seraphim, and the Lamb.
On 19 June 1896 the Building News and Engineering Journal reported that:
The news church at Kea, near Truro, which has been erected from designs by Mr. G. H. Fellowes Prynne, was opened last week. The main dimensions are – nave 67ft., width of nave 21ft. 6in. ; total width of church, with north and south aisles, 40ft. ; chancel, 21 ft. 6in. By 32ft. The style is a free treatment of the Perpendicular. The principal material used for the walls is stone from local quarries, Calenick and Poltesco, and a stone of yellow tone from a newly discovered quarry at Kerley. Outside the dressings are granite. The nave arches, which are of wide span, are decorated with carved pateræ. The builder of the church is Mr. Arthur Carkeek, of Redruth, who has carried out all his work admirably ; and Mr. Jones has been a vigilant clerk of the works.
Some interesting and insightful correspondence between Fellowes Prynne and the donor, concerning the East Window, along with some excellent photographs, can be found at
The illustration of the design of the exterior is from the journal Academy Architecture and Architectural Review (1897 vol II). The postcard of the exterior is undated. Below these is a selection of photographs of the interior of the church.