East Grinstead - Our Lady and St Peter

17 St James Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 1DL

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Frederick Arthur Walters (1850-1932) was a pupil of George Goldie and, like Goldie, developed an extensive practice designing Roman Catholic churches.  There are eight churches designed by Walters in the Arundel & Brighton Diocese alone, and others were he made enlargements.  Walters best known work is the rebuilding of the abbey at Buckfast in Devon.  Walters was equally at home in the gothic style as the Romanesque.  At East Grinstead the Romanesque or Norman style was chosen, perhaps a client choice.  The church was founded by Sir Edward C Blunt of Crabbet Park, Worth.  The foundation stone was laid in 1897 and the church opened in October 1898 and consecrated in 1899.  

The exterior is of painted roughcast with thin stone dressings.  It is sited hard up to the road with a gabled west bay and then a massive tower the full width of the church.  Single envelope beyond with an apsed east end.  Inside the church is more Early Christian or Byzantine in feel.  Barrel vaulted (in timber), plastered and with shallow lean-to aisles opening into short transepts with eastern chapels.  Western gallery on a three-bay arcade.  The interior is dominated by a baldachino that fills the sanctuary.   Decoration is otherwise restrained, apart from the transept chapels.  The open-back pine pews and the corona light fittings look original. 

An individual, if a little austere, neo Romanesque church by Frederick Walters.  Composed to give a sense of mass and scale beyond its relatively modest dimensions.  

Diocese: Arundel and Brighton

Architect: F A Walters

Original Date: 1898

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed