Saturday, 6 February 2016

St Margaret, Fernhurst

When in 1881 Fernhurst church began to look a bit 'tired', as estate agents say, the vicar and churchwardens must have thanked their lucky stars that a prominent architect, famous for his new churches, was living in the parish.
Anthony Salvin had built up an enviable practice designing and restoring churches and country houses. He had made something of a specialty of castles, having designed Peckforton Castle in Cheshire for the Tollemache family and added extensive living and entertaining accomodation at the Duke of Northumberland's seat, Alnwick Castle. Even if you have never been to Alnwick it may be familiar - it was used in the Harry Potter films as the location for Hogwarts School. Salvin had built a house for himself in Fernhurst having spent time in the area designing a country mansion and rebuilding the church at Northchapel.
The original 12th century church had already been altered with the addition of a south aisle and a small tower. Salvin left the original north wall with its two small lancet windows alone but altered the rest to enlarge it and bring it up to date.
The main alteration was to add an extra bay to the nave and erect a substantial tower with a broach spire. The nave was restored, retaining the interesting 16th century roof with curved braces. Salvin also reconstructed the chancel arch and designed the wooden pulpit and reading desk.
The church is not, it has to be admitted, one of Salvin's greatest works. He was getting on, and in fact died before building was finished. But the vicar must have been pleased as punch - Salvin not only did the design but paid for the builders as well - a tidy sum of £3,000, something like a million pounds today.