This section is from the book "Modern Buildings, Their Planning, Construction And Equipment Vol5", by G. A. T. Middleton. Also available from Amazon: Modern Buildings.
Speaking generally, Nonconformist churches and chapels differ but little in plan from those of the Establishment, this being particularly the case in the Wesleyan and Congregational bodies. In all instances, however, the ritual is rather one which gives prominence to the pulpit, so that there are cases in which the arrangement corresponds more nearly to that of a theatre than to that which is generally associated with a church, while in all instances galleries are more frequently used. It is difficult to understand why this should be, save on the score of economy, galleries being open to the serious objection that they are always difficult to supervise. A hundred years or so ago it was customary to put seating galleries into Establishment churches, but they have been given up almost without exception, as has the custom, still common on the Continent, of placing the organ and choir in a west end gallery.
The Wesleyan Church at Upper Tooting (Figs. 13 and 14), designed by Mr. J. S. Gibson, is an example of planning upon the generally accepted lines for English and Roman Catholic churches. It has a wide nave, and narrow aisles which serve as passages only, but the seats in the transepts are made to face inwards, the communion table being brought well to the front of the choir instead of being placed in a sanctuary at the east end. It is thus in a position from which it can be seen easily from the transepts, just as can the pulpit. As the church is somewhat close to a noisy road, the entrance has been very carefully screened by means of a narthex vestibule having a gallery over it, stairs to which are carried up on either side, in one case within the lower part of a tower, not yet completed, for the accommodation of bells. The construction of this is well explained in Fig. 14, and will be further detailed in a later part of this volume. The plan at A is particularly noticeable, as showing how the spire is arranged to sit upon the tower, the angles being corbelled across so as to form the octagon; while the plan at D, with its circular stairs in different corners, according to whether they go up or down, is somewhat unusual, the evident intention being to give access to the nave roof.
This matter of access is one which particularly influences the planning of churches, and requires a great deal of consideration, as all parts of the exterior, and particularly the windows, both externally and internally, should be accessible for cleaning and repairs without necessitating the erection of scaffolding; and it leads to the introduction of staircases in unexpected places, and of passages often contrived within the thickness of the walls.
The section AA on Fig. 13 is worthy of a good deal of attention, as the roof is of unusual construction, while sufficient buttressing is obtained to resist the thrusts by means of the transverse walls which are carried over the aisle passages, these being themselves slightly buttressed externally. One of the results of using the barrel form of plastered ceiling which is shown is that the acoustic properties of the church are unusually good.
The Wesleyan Church at the Haulgh (see Fig. 15), designed by Messrs. Bradshaw & Gass, is of a somewhat different type; for though it has transepts there is no nave arcade, the seats being reached by two aisle passages and by corridors which are external to the church itself, roofed at a sufficiently low level to allow clerestory lighting to the nave. At the extremity of these corridors there are staircases to side galleries which occupy the transepts, while they also serve a west end gallery over the entrance vestibule. A central rostrum takes the place of the pulpit, the choir being ranged round it, with the communion space in front. This is a reasonable plan to meet the requirements of the community, and the choir, rising as on a concert platform at the extreme end, should be able to produce a much greater volume of sound than in the ordinary Establishment church. Two choir vestries are provided, one at the low and another at the high level, but the minister's vestry is upon the other side of the church, communication between it and the choir-vestry being obtained beneath the rising seats of the choir, as shown on a special plan. In Fig. 15 a complete series of church buildings is shown, including a denominational schoolroom, with several classrooms and an infants' room, having the main entrances in front through corridor cloakrooms, which are distinct for boys and girls. There is also what is called a "church parlour" provided for small meetings, with a servery so placed that it might act as a refreshment-room when the schoolroom is utilised for such purposes as bazaars, there being a kitchen in the basement as well as proper arrangements for heating. It will be noticed that the group of buildings corresponds somewhat closely with that of the church at Catford already illustrated, except that the schoolroom takes the place of the vestry hall, for many of the purposes of which it would probably be employed.
The Baptist Chapel at Farnworth, also designed by Messrs. Bradshaw & Gass (Fig. 16), is somewhat different, owing to the necessity of placing the large baptistery for the total immersion of adults within full view of the congregation, while further conveniences are added in the form of cloak-rooms attached to the vestibule. The seats in the hall are arranged to radiate much as in a theatre, while the gallery is carried round three sides, so that from every seat there is a view of the baptistery and of the pulpit behind it. As in the last example, the choir is placed behind the pulpit, while the organ is behind that again. The choir reach their seats by means of stairs shown on the ground plan. There are separate vestries for men and women, which could be utilised also as dressing-rooms. At the back of the site, which extends along a side street, is a school and church parlour providing much the same accommodation as in the Wesleyan Church at the Haulgh, but differently arranged, the principal schoolroom being in this case on the first floor, while the kitchen service is contrived above the hall or passage which connects the church and school.
There must be separate ways for men and women both down to the tank and up again, and it is particularly necessary that there should be a separate heating apparatus, or at any rate a separate system of pipes, so that the water may be warmed independently of the room, it being essential for the sake of aged and infirm people that the water shall not be quite cold even in summer time.
It is not often that any other than Christian places of worship are erected in England, though Jewish synagogues are built occasionally, and it is contemplated at the present time to erect a Mohammedan Mosque in London, of which we are able to illustrate the plan and elevation in Figs. 17 and 18, as designed by Mr. W. I. Chambers. The principal features in such a building is a large open hall or "Maysura," in which the worshippers may assemble and kneel where they please so long as they face towards one particular portion of it, the "Mihrab," so arranged as to be in the direction of Mecca. In the present instance this is obtained within the arcade, the greater part of the aisles being capable of being screened off and used for committee-rooms and other purposes, and thus not actually considered as part of the ritual Mosque.
Another essential requirement is the tall tower or Minaret, from which the Muezzin may call the faithful to prayer. It is usual for such a building to be rectangular in plan as this is, the domical roof being commonly found wherever the Mohammedan religion prevails. In the present instance the design is based upon Indian work, but it is intended to use mosaic and other richly coloured material to a large extent for the purposes of decoration.
Fig. 18. W. 1. Chambers, Architect.