Heathfield – St Richard

(image) The brick church was designed by G E Streatfeild and the first phase of construction is said to have been finished in 1915 (GRI), though according to diocesan records the date was 1919.  This left the church with the nave and chancel complete, the former incorporating arcades for aisles that were intended from the first.

The church is essentially urban in character and is unusually low in proportion to the length.  Above the west end is the only vertical element, which is not an attempt at a tower, as might be thought, but a remarkably obtrusive chimney which appears to belong to the first phase.  There is in fact not even a belfry and the rather sprawling appearance of the church is accentuated by the lack of a clerestory or of any differentiation between nave and later south aisle beyond a tiny break in the roofs.   There are cusped lancets in the sides of the chancel and traceried east and west windows with Decorated tracery.  The east one has 5 lights of Perp tracery and the west one no less than seven.  As first built, the side-walls of the nave were made of unadorned brick with utilitarian lancets, still to be seen on the north side.  That to the south remained until 1962-63, when an aisle was added to the designs of J D Clarke and Son (D Clarke and F E Ford) (ICBS), with an entrance and vestries projecting beyond the west end  The new work does not attempt to emulate the gothic style of the original, and the outer wall of the aisle consists of groups of almost continuous mullioned windows, separated by buttresses.  A vestry at the east end of the aisle was probably added at the same time..

The inside is more conventional, since it is dominated by Streatfeild’s simplified arcades and a chancel arch in the same idiom, all lacking abaci or capitals.  There are three arches each side (still of course blocked on the  north side), broad and without any capitals and the nave roof has arch-braces and long wall-posts.

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My thanks to Nick Wiseman for the photographs.

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