George Fellowes Prynne


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COLOMBO Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
Christ Church Cathedral*

A booklet reprinted from The Church Builder, (date unknown), gives the background to, and description of, the proposed cathedral. A scheme was outlined by the committee pursuing the project:

  • to erect a cathedral church capable of seating from 1500 to 2000 persons, with two minor buildings upon the “Galle Face” site, the work to be entrusted to a first-rate architect, who should visit the site and offer a design after studying local conditions;
  • to issue an appeal to all church people, whether in Ceylon or England, who had or have any connection with the island, inviting their cordial support.

Fellowes Prynne was selected from several architects in 1911, and went to Colombo the following year to study local climatic conditions.

The designs, which we were able to illustrate, show that the architect has not been content to reproduce the traditional style of the West, but has designed a building which seems to combine the massive proportion of Byzantine work with the devotional feeling of Eastern work, without slavishly binding himself to the hard and fast details of any one style.

Rather than describe in detail any more of the plans, the illustration at fig. 44 will provide at least an idea of how very different this design was from Fellowes Prynne’s domestic work. It will be observed, however, that some familiar concepts are present here, as everywhere, particularly in the use of contrasting brick and stone, and the arrangement of arches and clerestory windows. One especially interesting fact is highlighted in the report:

The material used in construction will be mainly re-inforced concrete, with local brick and Indian stone facings, etc.; asbestos slates will be used in the roof. The interior gold and coloured decoration will be applied to a specially prepared concrete surface.

Agreement was reached between Fellowes Prynne and his supervising agent in November 1922.