Chiddingfold - St Theresa of Avila

Woodside Road, Chiddingfold

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This is the best example known to us of a church designed by the Roman Catholic architect, Henry Bingham Towner, whose firm built so many churches for the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton between 1955 and 1970.  It is also, unlike all the other churches visited, constructed of good quality natural materials, and the standard of workmanship is correspondingly high.  It is an asymmetric but carefully balanced design, the church makes an important contribution to the townscape of Chiddingfold, a village that is noted for its many pretty tile-hung cottages and fine medieval inn.

The church at Chiddingfold was built in 1959 to the design of Henry Bingham Towner (1909-1997).  Towner, who set up his practice in 1938, lived at Uckfield and specialized in church architecture.  After the 2nd World War his firm was responsible for the construction of more than 25 RC churches.  This survey has examined 14 of these buildings, 12 in Sussex and 2 in Surrey, and we judge St Theresa of Avila to be the best of the churches we have seen.

The church stands in a very prominent position on a corner opposite the green in the centre of Chiddingfold.  It is built in expensive natural materials, stone for the walls and slate for the roofs, at a time when the use of such things was becoming rare.  The plan of the church is cruciform, with a single cell nave and apsidal sanctuary under one long roof, and shallow transepts of equal height to either side.  A porch is attached to the west side of the south transept, and a small polygonal chapel projects from the east corner of the same transept.  The space occupied by the porch to the south of the nave is balanced by an aisle to the north, and the vestry is attached to the north transept. 

Diocese: Arundel and Brighton

Architect: Henry Bingham Towner

Original Date: 1959

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed