LOWER SYDENHAM, Lewisham, London – All Saints. 


Note that the anticipated dedication when this church was first being contemplated was Christ Church, as was indeed the case when Fellowes Prynne’s designs were published in The Builder in 1901, and his architectural drawings in the Academy Architecture and Architectural Review in both 1901 (1) and 1902(1).  The drawings are shown below.

The foundation stone ceremony was reported in the Kentish Mercury of 8 November 1901.

The Master of the Temple (Canon Ainger) laid the corner stone on Saturday afternoon of the new building of Christ Church, Lower Sydenham, which is being erected on a site in Trewsbury-road, adjacent to the present building in Sydenham-road… The church, which is being erected by Messrs. Goddard and Son, of Farnham and Dorking, from the designs of Mr. G. H. Fellowes Prynne, F.R.I.B.A., and will cost when complete some £13,000, but at present only a portion is being erected at a cost of £8,000, towards which over £5,000 has been received.  It will accommodate 600 people.

The Builder, on the following day, published the plan of the church with the following description.

The main form of the plan is a nave 93 ft. long by 34 ft. wide, divided into five bays of 18 ft. centres.  Broad processional passages are placed on either side, leading into north and south transepts, that on the south side terminating into an apsidal ended chapel, and that on the north side into an organ chamber. 

The baptistry is situated at the west end of the nave and has a vaulted roof, and is flanked on either side by a porch, over the whole of which is formed a small western gallery, which extends the entire width of the nave, and to which access is gained by two turret staircases, one on either side.  These turrets are carried up externally the whole height of the building, and form one of the principal features of the west end elevation.

The chancel is 41 ft. 6 in. long by 28 ft. wide, with an altar, raised nine steps from the nave floor level.  Spacious clergy and choir vestries are placed on the north side, with heating chamber under.  The chancel is divided from the nave by a chancel arch, rising to the entire height of the nave, being filled with a rich traceried stone constructional screen, which forms one of the principal features of the design.

The roof, which is carried at one level through the nave and chancel, is of barrel form, with the addition of a covered cornice for future decoration.

The materials used are red brick relieved with stone dressings.  Messrs. Goddard and Sons, of Dorking, whose tender for the work is £13,590, are the builders, and the architect is Mr. Geo. H. Fellowes Prynne, of Westminster.

Of particular interest in this description is mention of a west end gallery.  It is one of only two examples that I have come across in his through-designed buildings that was to have incorporated such a feature.  The other is the original design of St Martin’s, Worcester.  Sadly, as with St Martin’s, the west end of this church was never completed to Fellowes Prynne’s design, so this gallery, and the distinctive turrets, were never built.

The screen here, like that at St. Peter’s, Staines, has figures incorporated. Sydenham’s screen has other similarities with that of Staines in that springs from a stone and wrought iron chancel wall (complete with fine iron gates), and also in being of three equal sections with similar arches at the point where the tracery starts. The figures however, each occupy one complete third of the width (though the outer figures are inevitably enclosed by the chancel arch), and they stand on a horizontal stone beam. This, together with distinct vertical divisions, gives this screen a much more geometric appearance than, say, All Saints West Dulwich or Staines. The tracery incorporates trefoil and quatrefoil motifs, and is especially elaborate and thick-textured around the rood.

The images of the architect’s designs for the exterior and interior of the church are from the journal Academy Architecture and Architectural Review, firstly from 1901 volume 1, then from 1902 volume 1.