Past Remains

A view of yesterday from today

United Reformed Church, Seaton, Devon

Talking to a friend a year or so ago, she told me that there's some stunning stained glass inside this church. As it happened, I couldn't find when it was open apart from services, so it was a long time before I actually got to see it. However, one day with nothing much to do, I decided to take photos of the exterior anyway and although there wasn't a lot to see I really enjoyed spending some time here. More recently this year I was able to see the interior for myself...and it was well worth the wait!

This church was built specifically for the Congregationalists in 1894, as a more suitable venue for worship than the Independant Chapel on Fore Street that had been previously used. The name change occured when the Congregationalists and the Presbyterians merged to become the United Reformed Church in 1972.  

Built from local flint, the church is fairly typical of a Victorian Gothic church and has a few nice features such as the head stops at the ends of the hood moulds, which are of a foliage design. The quoins and window dressings are made from Bath and Beer limestone, the latter from the local Quarry above the village of Beer.

The panelled door with it's light wood has a more modern look, and although the ironwork strap hinges are meant to emulate the Gothic style they too have the feel of a modern interpretation. I love the design of them...ornate, yet also simply and beautifully made, with the Victorian attention to detail that is so often lacking today. 

Inside though, has the most delightful detail. The vestibule and main body of the church are divided by means of this wood-panelled and stained glass screen. Even though my friend had told me about the lovely stained glass, I had no idea just how gorgeous it is until I actually saw it.

The vestibule was enlarged in 1992, at which time the last two rows of pews were removed and the screen moved forward. I love the geometrical design and the Arts & Crafts flora in the door panels, below. 

The rest of the church windows are quite simple with cathedral tinted glass windows, such as the one below which is situated in the vestibule. As opposed to plain glass, they have a very subtle blue tint, which is more evident with the smaller pieces of glass.

Other exterior features include four gate pillars, two each side of a low wall in the centre topped with wrought iron railings. The floral carvings are an absolute delight and I love the way that weathering has given the quatrefoils such an endearing quality.

Sandwiched between two buildings, the church looks deceptively small because only the front can be seen from the street. One side can be accessed by an entryway to the hall at the rear. Some lovely y-tracery windows adorn the length, set within the striking contrast of mellow red brick.

The photo below is of the windows of the original chapel in Fore Street, where the Congregationalists began. 

It still amazes me that you can walk past a building regularly for years, yet when taking a longer and considered look it can have the power to surprise and delight you with it's details. It's almost like a gift from the building itself, that taking the time to know and understand it gives the means to discover it's secret uniqueness and character. :) 

More photos along with these can also be seen in the Photo Gallery album.

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