Wednesday, 31 December 2014

St Bartholomew Without, Chichester

Like the green hill far away, St Bartholomew is 'without a city wall', in this case 'without' Chichester's West Gate.
The original church was probably built in the 12th century and was circular with a circular apse over the altar, a shape associated with the Knights Templar so the church became known as the Temple even though it was never associated with those militant monks. New Fishbourne church was probably a chapelry to St Bartholomew at the time.
Sadly, this unusual church was destroyed in the Parliamentary siege of Chichester in 1642 and not a trace of it remains.
Although the parish of St Bartholomew continued to exist, the church was not rebuilt until 1824 when the architect George Draper was brought in, hot foot from his work adding a north transept to Fishbourne church.
Draper's design is a simple classical box with a stone-faced west end. The west door and window are emphasised by a small pediment, which used to be topped by a stone Grecian tower.
Inside, Draper created a plain box with tall arched windows that fill it with light. He was held back by limited funding, so although he designed galleries they were never installed.
In 1878 the parish finally found some money and a small but delicately-decorated chancel was added, and an organ loft inserted at the west end.
The last major changes came in 1929 when Macdonald Gill, brother of the famous sculptor Eric Gill, removed the tower on structural grounds and decorated the nave ceiling with a characteristic geometric pattern.
St Bartholomew was later taken over by Chichester Theological College and is now the Chaplaincy Centre of Chichester College.