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Church of St Alban, Bournemouth

Description: Church of St Alban

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 27 February 1976
English Heritage Building ID: 101720

OS Grid Reference: SZ0966793231
OS Grid Coordinates: 409667, 93231
Latitude/Longitude: 50.7386, -1.8644

Location: 1 Fitzharris Avenue, Bournemouth BH9 1BU

Locality: Bournemouth
County: Bournemouth
Country: England
Postcode: BH9 1BU

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Listing Text

768/15/198 CHARMINSTER ROAD
27-FEB-76 (West side)
CHURCH OF ST ALBAN

II*
1907-9, by G.H. Fellowes Prynne.

MATERIALS: Rock-faced grey stone (a contemporary report says Kentish rag), red tiled roofs. Slate roof over the tower base. Inside, red and white brick with Bath stone dressings and banding.

PLAN: Chancel, five and a half bay nave with aisles. The eastern two bays of the aisles are treated as transepts. The north transept has a tower base to its west and a balancing apsidal Lady Chapel to its east. West narthex with a central apsidal baptistery. Vestries etc. in a crypt under the east end.

EXTERIOR: An impressive church which develops themes from Prynne's earlier work at St Martin, Worcester. The style is Late Free Gothic, with flowing Dec tracery in the larger windows. The east end faces Charminster Road, making the most of the steeply sloping site, with the chancel raised dramatically high over a crypt. The high five-light east window has dense small-scale Dec tracery. The mullions continue below the window with a tier of arcaded panelling. Below again, a chequered stone frieze runs around the chancel. The crypt windows have segmental lights in two pairs beneath segmental outer arches. Here the tracery is free Perp. Over the chancel arch is a bellcote under an ogee gable. An apsidal chapel with a band of seven lancets projects eastward from the north transept, with irregular angled staircase projections to its left and right, forming a dynamic composition. The deep transepts have two cross-gables. The two-storeyed tower base with hipped slate roof sits west of the north transept; the planned tower was to have had a needle spire. The tower base has an ogee-arched west door under crested panelling. The west narthex has an embattled parapet, ogee doorways at each end, and in the centre, the apsidal baptistery with five lancets. Above is a very big seven-light west window. The low lean-to aisles have broad flat-headed windows and a parapet with a ramped depression at each bay. The clerestory windows are of three lights with cambered heads, under blank relieving arches.

INTERIOR: The interior is powerful. The motifs, while not original, are handled inventively and the spatial dynamism creates points of unexpected interest. Mainly red brick, with bold and dominant banding of Bath stone around the arcades and on the walls, giving an almost Byzantine impression. Hexagonal piers, with triangular projections facing into the nave and aisles; their points continue up as little triangular wall shafts. Dying into the piers are segmental aisle arches, held within giant arches which frame the clerestory. Within these giant arches above the aisle openings, and in the transepts, the walls are faced with white brick relieved by thin bands of red. The apsidal Lady Chapel is intimate and discreet, and opens off the north transept. The radial pattern of its roof timbers echo the plan. It has a little serpentine step for the altar, floored with mosaic. Between the Lady Chapel and the chancel is a narrow galleried space with a half arch opening into the transept. In the south transept, a broad staircase leads down to the crypt. The aisles are low and narrow, with transverse half-arches like flying buttresses opening into the transepts, and a segmental transverse arch at each bay westward. Their spandrels are pierced by quatrefoils. There are wagon roofs, painted in the chancel and stained in the nave, with a painted ceilure over the sanctuary. The nave roof has iron ties. The breast wall to the chancel is of Portland stone inlaid with lozenges of coloured marbles. The floors are parquet, except in the chancel where there is black and white marble chequerwork.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The high altar has hangings under a Gothic stone canopy. The pulpit is robust, of Portland stone with Gothic tracery in rectangular panels, and a figure of St Alban. On top of the chancel breast wall, a fine wrought-iron and screen with splendid iron and brass gates; metal screens were a speciality of Prynne. The choir stalls and chancel fittings are of oak with open traceried stall fronts, and Flamboyant tracery in the parclose screens. Coved galleries at either side, with the organ on the south gallery. The font is modelled in alabaster as a big kneeling angel holding a shell bowl, after an early 19th century model by Thorwaldsen. (A similar one exists at Emmanuel church, Weston-super-Mare, made by G.J. Hunt.) Stained glass in the east window is by William Morris & Co. Five narrow lancets in the Baptistery have stained glass by Percy Bacon, 1911. The nave seating is the original school-style chairs of oak. The western bay-and-a-half of the nave is divided off by a half-glazed screen of oak, a Second World War memorial.

HISTORY: Built as a District church to the mother church of St Augustine, as the Bournemouth suburbs expanded north into Winton and Moordown. The foundation stone was laid on October 8, 1907, and the opening was on June 3, 1909. Consecrated as a parish church on June 17, 1913. St Alban is, like many churches in Bournemouth, in the High Anglican tradition. A watercolour perspective in the church shows the tall steepled tower, which was never built.

George Halford Fellowes Prynne (1853-1927) emigrated to Canada in 1871 and was a pupil of Richard Windeyer (c.1830-1900) of Toronto, 1872-5. He then returned to England, working in the office of G.E. Street. He set up in independent practice in 1879, established a good reputation as a church architect and was diocesan architect for Oxford from 1913.

SOURCES
N. Pevsner, Buildings of England: Hampshire, 1967, p. 120
ICBS archive (www.churchplansonline.org) file 10747

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
The Church of St Alban is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* A design of high quality by G. Fellowes Prynne, a respected church architect of the late Victorian and Edwardian decades.
* Good exploitation of the sloping site, giving the exterior an unexpected Romantic intensity
* The internal handling of space is particularly powerful, and the sense of mass is emphasised by strident polychromy
* Largely unaltered, with original fittings including glass by Morris & Co. and Percy Bacon, and wrought-iron and brass chancel screen
* Set in streets of prosperous Edwardian villas reflecting the middle-class congregation for which the church was built.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.