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Architect wins prize for work on Sussex church

Deirdre Waddington with Fr Chris Bergin, Priest in charge of renovations

Deirdre Waddington with Fr Chris Bergin, Priest in charge of renovations

Architect Deirdre Waddington has been awarded the  prestigious RIBA Downland Prize in the community section for her work at the church of St Francis and St Anthony,(also  known as the Friary Church).

Originally completed in 1959 extensive alterations to the church were carried out between 1993 and 1995. Deirdre Waddington’s brief was to remedy defects in the construction; provide access for the disabled; and create a more practical and prayerful interior. Among the resulting alterations were the re-instatement of the East wall; and the formation of a false arch to conceal the line of braced steelwork. The original painted ceiling and patterned flooring were re-instated. Deirdre replanned the sanctuary to provide focus for worshippers, which included the incorporation of the Lady Altar from a church in Woking, which was about to be demolished.

The Downland Prize jury commented: “The re-ordering of the internal space has been sensitively carried out, in a manner that is wholly sympathetic with the original design fifty years ago. The project demonstrates great sensitivity and respect; and has delivered a building which appears to have exceeded client expectations, in an extremely well-mannered, understated way. The original and new elements appear to have been seamlessly joined.”

Friary church in Haslett Avenue West designed originally by Harry Stuart Goodhart-Rendel’s features on the Crawley Heritage Trail and is constantly visited by members of the public. The church was completed shortly before his death in 1959.

Deirdre said that “everyone worked really well together.” To see pictures of the newly restored Church see: www.crawleyparish.org/