TAPLOW, Buckinghamshire – St Nicholas.
The South Buckinghamshire Standard of 12 December 1912 reported on the dedication service of the new church. The new church
…replaces the structure “built in vile style” (Architectural Topography of England) of yellow stock brick, which for 90 years has served the parish as its House of God. Of this brick building only the walls of the tower and the chancel have been kept to serve as a core for the present tower and chancel; everything else has been pulled down. The new Church, built from the plans of the well-known church architect, Mr. G. H. Fellowes Prynne, F.R.I.B.A., of Westminster, is faced throughout with Kentish rag stone.
The chancel has been extended, re-roofed, re-floored, re-modelled, and re-faced. The tower has been similarly treated and surmounted by a lofty timber and copper spire, 116 ft. high, crowned with a gilded cross and weathercock. The body of the Church, which is entirely new, consists of a nave 65 ft. long by 24 ft. 6 in. wide, with a height of 40 ft. divided into five bays and having clerestory windows above the arches. The columns are gracefully clustered with carved terminals under the necking of the caps, and the clerestory windows have an original treatment of internal tracery, which adds apparent depth and gives a very rich effect. The roof is extremely fine, of open timbered oak, with a continuous coved cornice formed by the hammer beams. Aisles extend on either side, and on the south-east a double transept of two bays forms a nave to the apsidal ended chapel of St. Mary which extends eastward. The main entrance is at the west end of the Church under the tower. There are three other entrances, the one to the south-west of the south aisle being through a half-timbered porch, with its happy suggestion of homeliness and village life.
The enlarged and renewed chancel is very dignified now that the altar has been raised seven steps above the nave floor level. The old alabaster reredos, given by the Rev. C. Whately, Rector of Taplow, when he built the chancel at his sole cost in 1865, has been re-modelled, the floors of the chancel and sanctuary have been laid with beautiful marble paving… Arches stand on the north and south of the chancel, affording return passages for communicants. Carved oak parclose screens add interest and reverence to the chancel, and these are glazed to keep out the draughts. The organ chamber is on the north side of the chancel, and opens into the clergy and choir vestries; these latter are very convenient in size and situation, and in their fittings. The south-east chapel is arcaded on either side. It forms, with its marble altar and beautiful mosaic pavement, one of the most charming features of the Church…
The rood screen is very striking, and is treated in a very original way. Delicate stone tracery fills the chancel arch. The centre is formed by a large cross on which hangs a finely sculptured figure of the dying Saviour. On either side stand the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. John, while two adoring angels hold emblems of the Blessed Sacrament. Gilded wrought iron and copper grille work, with gates, occupy the lower part of the screen…
The devotional effect of the Church, as a whole, is very marked, and reflects great credit on the architect. He has, under great difficulties, created a building which is at once a thing of arresting beauty and a Shrine of God…
The chancel is lighted with electricity by Messrs. E. P. Allam and Co. It is heated by low pressure system, by Messrs. C. P. Kinnell and Co. It is floored with wood blocks, and seated with benches. The whole work has been very thoroughly carried out by the builders, Messrs. Honour and Sons, of Tring, under the careful supervision of Mr. A. H. Hodnett, Clerk of the Works. The cost of the whole is over £9,000. The Church will hold 525.
Externally, the building has the completed tower with copper spire (resembling Staines and Kea). Internally, there are many features typical of the architect, including the apsidal Lady Chapel, stone pillars, stone-faced arches and, most notably, the stone rood screen. An unusual feature is the shape and decoration of the pillars. Although essentially octagonal in cross section, which is not unusual, each face is indented by a pair of shallow grooves, which meet in the middle along a slight ridge, and leave the corners emphasised, and giving the pillars the effect of being clustered columns. The corners are rounded. The effect is further enhanced by decorative motifs just below the more orthodox octagonal capitals. This kind of ornamentation has not been found anywhere else in the architect’s designs. At the entrance to the chancel there is not the usual wall, but a wrought iron screen which, like the stone screen, rests on the floor.
The lych gate was designed in 1924-5 and the firm of Dart and Francis were involved in the construction.
The first photo, immediately right, shows the interior, beautifully lit and decorated for a wedding. My thanks to Tony Bridge for this picture. Some of the pews are roped off as the picture was taken during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Below are two postcards, with that of the exterior having a date of 1924. Below these are various images of the church: the lych gate, the “rustic porch”, the Lady Chapel altar, and detail of a pillar.