By the time Charles Fowler was designing the church in Charmouth, he had already achieved fame with his highly original accomplishments on Hungerford Market and then Covent Garden Market in London. He also designed Exeter Market and Syon Park conservatory. It was a mystery why a village should end up with a church building designed by Charles Fowler, one of the country’s greatest architects. However, a glance at the memorials in the church gave a clue. One is in memory of Jane Fowler, Charles Fowler’s mother, and another of Mary Culverwell, her sister. Both lived in the village. We have a full set of rendered drawings of the church produced by CharlesFowler, which will make a fascinating exhibition in itself.
Beneath the superficial decoration, the essence of Charles Fowler’s approach to design was shaped by an admiration for elegant, slender, monumental Victorian engineering, and a belief that an industrial scale using new materials would form the backcloth to daily life in future.
Accordingly, when Charles Fowler’s mother insisted he build them a Parish Church for what was (and remains) a tiny congregation, she was really asking the wrong man! He created a remarkably beautiful building – perhaps to the wrong scale for a tiny parish, but what he has given us is an exciting space with immense potential.