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A writer, blogger, historian, and web designer born in New York, educated in Argentina, Scotland, and South Africa, and now based in London. read more

Fellowes Prynne in Johannesburg

A Rejected Proposal for St. Mary’s Anglican Church

We rarely mention Johannesburg on this little corner of the web because our mother taught us that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. While ruffling through the archives the other day, however, I came across this design for the Johannesburg cathedral of the Church of the Province of South Africa. George Halford Fellowes Prynne (1853–1927) was an accomplished Gothic architect whose work is mostly found in the south of England. He’s notable for his rood screens in particular, worked in a variety of forms and materials (wood, stone, and metal), though this design employs a hanging rood.

Fellowes Prynne was commissioned to design the Anglican Church of St. Mary in Johannesburg in 1906. The church hall was built first and used for worship pending the construction of the church itself. In 1911, the Anglicans created a diocese for Johannesburg and it was decided that St. Mary’s be the cathedral. The rector, however, decided that the Fellowes Prynne plan was too elaborate and expensive and elected for a simpler design that incorporated some of the original architect’s ideas.

The cathedral was dedicated in 1927 but unfortunately the beautiful church hall was found cumbersome to maintain and was demolished in 1933, erasing Fellowes Prynne from Johannesburg! Some of his work remains in South Africa, however; most prominently his Anglican cathedral at Umtata (lately Mthatha).

This post was published on Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 12:02 pm. It has been categorised under Architecture South Africa and been tagged under , , .
K. Dontoh
19 Oct 2010 4:05 pm

Looks awfully modest for an Anglican cathedral in an Old Dominion.

Do I want to know what it was replaced with?

Ruth Sharville
27 Feb 2017 8:54 pm

Hi Andrew. Check out my website for more on Fellowes Prynne. I shall soon be updating it so keep an eye on it! Ruth

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