“I could hardly be called a pillar of the Church…

…I am more in the nature of a buttress, for I support it from the outside.” Winston Churchill

Andrew Trimen (1810-1868) was an architect favoured by the English Congregational Chapel-Building Society; it was the Wesleyan Theological College at Queens Road, Richmond Hill, which provided him with his first major commission (pictured above).

The Methodist Church had decided to celebrate the centenary of Wesley’s Ministry by building two theological institutes in the north and south of England. That at Didsbury, Manchester, built to designs by Richard Lane, opened in 1842 and survives as part of Manchester Metropolitan University. The second college (now the home of the American International University in London) opened a year later.

Set in spacious grounds on the brow of Richmond Hill, the theological college had 41 students in residence at its opening. Pevsner notes of the building – “Large and prosperous, neo-Tudor with a symmetrical front of fine ashlar stone with projecting wings. Four storeyed in the recessed centre, the two lower storeys taken as one. In the middle the familiar gatehouse motif.”

What are now Richmond University’s extensive gardens contain many rare specimens of plants and trees, gathered and planted by the missionaries from their journeys abroad, many of which are registered with Kew Gardens.

A decade on, Trimen was appointed architect for the Congregational Chapel at Craven Hill, Bayswater. He had produced designs by December 1853; a foundation stone was laid on 26 June 1854 and the chapel was opened in May 1855.

The design was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1854 but one reviewer was far from impressed. Having praised a design by Goldie the writer continued: “As much cannot be said of the design for Congregational Church now erecting, we are truly ashamed to find, at Craven Hill, Hyde Park, from designs by A. Trimen  …. there is a miserable attempt to mask a sprawling roof of one span by a triply‑divided end or front wall; and the shape of flying buttresses, as if from nave over aisles, is taken advantage of (the wall of course filling them up in reality), while the ridge acts as partial coping to the said roof:  such a perpetration and outrage of principle, we have not seen for a long time.” (Civil Engineer and Architect’s Journal 1854)

Geraldine Edith Mitton wrote more kindly in 1903, in Mayfair, Belgravia, and Bayswater:

“On the east side of Craven Terrace is a finely-built Congregational Church. This is in a decorated style, with a large wheel window and finely ornamented pinnacles. It was built between forty and fifty years ago, and contains seats for about 700 people.”

Before she married his father, Andrew Trimen’s mother had gone by the name of Margaret Richmond.

Andrew’s second marriage was to a woman named Mary Buttress.

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