Christ Church St Leonards on Sea


Christ Church is an Anglican church in St Leonards-on-Sea,. Opened as the town’s third Anglican church in 1860 to serve a rapidly developing residential area and to accommodate poor worshippers who could not afford pew rents at the fashionable St Leonard’s and St Mary Magdalene’s Churches, the original building was superseded by a much larger church built next to it between 1873 and 1875. Prolific ecclesiastical architect Sir Arthur Blomfield’s simple Gothic Revival design forms a landmark on one of St Leonards-on-Sea’s main roads, continues to serve a large area of the town (including the former parish of the now closed St Mary Magdalene’s Church) and maintains a strong Anglo-Catholic tradition. It has been described as Blomfield’s “finest achievement in Sussex” and “one of the main centres of Anglo-Catholic worship in Southern England”. The interior fittings are the best of any church in the borough, and the design has been called one of Blomfield’s most successful.

The new building was dedicated on 13 May 1875, its first day of public service. It could not be consecrated at that time, though, as debts from the building work were still outstanding. These debts, and the church itself, still therefore belonged to Fr Vaughan. All the required money was raised by October 1884,and the Bishop of Chichester The Right Reverend Richard Durnford conducted the consecration ceremony on 20 November 1884. Further structural additions were made during the rest of the 19th century: timber flooring and an alabaster altar were added in 1890 and 1891 respectively, and the long-awaited tower and spire were erected soon after a building fund was started in 1888.

Work began in 1894 and was completed in time for a dedication ceremony on 5 February 1895. Some of the bells and an iron cross which surmounted the spire was given as memorials by people associated with the church. In the next decade, stained glass was installed in the clerestory windows, a new font was acquired and the church commemorated Fr Vaughan (who had died in 1895)[29] with a brass monument and a Calvary. The church was extended at the west end with an organ chamber in 1919–20, although the original plans were more ambitious: a war memorial chapel, a new (and much grander) entrance and a baptistery were intended.

English Heritage has listed Christ Church at Grade II* for its architectural and historical importance


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