ROEHAMPTON, Wandsworth, London – Holy Trinity.
George Fellowes Prynne designed an imposing elegant neo-Gothic building, whose striking external appearance and enormous dimensions clearly held their own among the mansions and open spaces of the area.
The main body of the building is not unlike many of his standard designs, lofty and spacious, with lancet windows, and the same roof level all along. The tower adds a new dimension, reaching through the tapering spire to a height of over 200 feet.
The sense of space and beauty of detail is to be found equally, if not more so, inside the building.
The nave walls are of white and red brick, with the white predominating. The chancel and sanctuary are in red brick broken only by white stonework. Bath stone facing is to be found on the arches, and the pillars are also of stone. The roof is the typical simple barrel roof, with metal tie beams at intervals. The roof height is constant for the length of the building. There are five pairs of arches in the nave, each with a space above, and then a pair of clerestory windows. Above each main pillar is a corbel with a roof-supporting pillar springing from it. The main pillars are composite, with embellishments which are particularly delicate at the capitals. The arches lead at both north and south sides to side aisles. These are typical, with the sloping eaves of a wooden roof, and lancet windows. At the east end of the side aisles are, unusually, small stone screens.
There is one transept, on the north side, from which leads an apsidal Lady Chapel, very much in the architect’s usual style both internally and outside.
The chancel wall is a little different from Fellowes Prynne’s usual style, in that it has decorated panels rather than the more usual relief carving or marble inserts. It does not have a wrought iron screen upon it; this is placed higher up between the pillars supporting the stone screen. However, there is a pair of gilded wrought iron gates in the centre. The lectern is not Fellowes Prynne’s usual eagle, but is in a style worthy of the church. It is not known by the author whether this lectern is contemporary with the building. The pulpit most certainly is part of Fellowes Prynne’s design, reflecting as it does the magnificence of the decoration in this building.
The chancel and sanctuary are, relatively speaking, short in length when compared with the length of the building. At least, this is the impression given, owing to the immense height of the structure. The area is a riot of colour and lavish embellishment. The red brickwork is contrasted with the white Bath stone surround of the east window, and is relieved on the either side of it by occasional horizontal bands of stone. The effect of the stained glass east window, itself a splendid example (along with the rest of the church’s windows) of the work of craftsman William Kemp, is rather diminished by the altar and reredos and adjacent stonework.
The baptistry is approached via a small screen and iron gates. It is located on the south side at the west end in a little apse of its own. The floor is of turquoise mosaic, similar to that seen in many of Fellowes Prynne’s Lady Chapel sanctuaries. The font has a wooden cover suspended above it, similar in design to those at Staines and St. Austell. The roof is similar to many of the architect’s designs for Lady Chapel sanctuary roofs.
Examples of Modern Architecture carried illustrations of the baptistry with the following text. The images can be seen below, under the pictures of the exterior.
The Font has a bowl of Alabaster supported on columns of varied marble. Four sculptured panels are inserted on the four curved sides of the Font representing the Annunciation, Nativity, Presentation, and Christ blessing little children. Between these panels are placed four Angels, all in pure white Alabaster. The steps are of Labrador granite. The octagonal Oak Cross is elaborately carved. The counter weight for raising and lowering the cover is in the form of a dove.
The Baptistery is in the form of an Apse. The flooring and dado round the walls are in patterned mosaic work. The seven single light windows are filled with stained glass with representation of the seven acts of mercy. The roof is decorated in gold and colour. A stone screen divides the Baptistery from the South Aisle, and has two double elaborately designed wrought iron gates.
The vintage postcards show the exterior and interior of the church. The first was posted in 1914, but the second is undated. Below them are two illustrations from Examples of Modern Architecture of the Baptistry.
The altar and reredos
The reredos is flanked by stonework. For three quarters of the area, the stonework is of squares not unlike high relief tiles, each bearing a stylised four-petalled flower. (This is a motif observed on the chancel wall at the church in Stebbing, one of the mediaeval churches with stone screen, said to have been a source of inspiration to Fellowes Prynne.) Above the squares is an arcade with five coloured marble pillars, between which are four figures, on either side. The figures and their plinths are all part of the relief stonework. The reredos itself depicts two scenes from Holy Week, namely the Last Supper and the Crucifixion. The two scenes are surrounded by white stonework and coloured marble pillars, with a figure in a niche surmounting a cluster of marble and stone on each side. The structure comes to a point, inside which is a cusped arch. This arch surrounds the scene of Christ on the Cross, with His Mother and Saint John to His left and right, and outside them two groups of mournful angels. The figures are coloured, and the background of this stone relief is gilded, as are the haloes of the angels.
Below this scene is an alabaster canopy, under which is a depiction of the Last Supper. Eleven disciples are around the table, standing seated or kneeling, as Jesus instigates the Eucharist. One disciple, Judas Iscariot, is not taking any notice of what is going on and is walking away. There is lavish use of colour, as well as a marvellously realistic effect of draped cloth in the characters’ robes and in the tablecloth, all in stone relief work. This whole scene is surrounded by alabaster. The base of the reredos is a pattern of circles each containing eight gilded diamonds. Each circle corresponds to a section of the canopy above.
Both the canopy and the circle motif are reflected in the design of the magnificent altar. This artefact is a wonderful tribute not only to the design ability of George Fellowes Prynne, but to the artistic ability of his brother Edward, whose opulent paintings in predominantly gold and red depict Seraphim and The Lamb. The altar framework itself is of carved, coloured and gilded oak. Like most of Fellowes Prynne’s designs for altars, this is in three equal sections. The table is flat, with no tabernacle incorporated, but the exposed edge is richly carved and decorated in red and gold. The three sections are each framed with a multitude of detail, including cusped arches, elaborate bosses, and flanking each frame is a barley-twist gilded pillar.
The screen at this church is one of the finest examples of this feature by Fellowes Prynne. But it is different, both in style and content, from other stone screens described on this site. Rather than no figures at all, or the usual trio of figures in a Rood group, there is simply an angel holding a scroll. There is a wrought iron cross, and decorations to the sides rather similar to those which were at All Saints, West Dulwich, but no cross in the stonework. The three sections are almost equal in breadth. The only indication that the segments are unequal can be seen by comparing the distances between the fleur-de-lis motifs at the cusps of the tracery in the central arch and its two neighbours. The small discrepancy allows the designer to extend the secondary arch structure in which the figure is housed right to the top of the chancel arch. There are secondary arches on either side also, but these simply contain a large encircled trefoil. There are smaller circles in the spaces between the secondary arches, and small cusps to make the remaining spaces interesting.