St Mary Magdalene – St Leonards on Sea

004St-Mary- Magdelene-church

St Mary Magdalene’s Church is a Greek Orthodox place of worship in St Leonards-on-Sea. Built in 1852 for Anglican worshippers in the growing new town of St Leonards-on-Sea, a seaside resort which had been laid out from the 1820s, the church’s prominent position on the skyline overlooking the town was enhanced in 1872 by the addition of a tower. No longer required by the Anglican community in the 1980s, it was quickly bought by the Greek Orthodox Church and converted into a place of worship in accordance with their requirements. The alterations were minimal, though, and the building retains many of its original fittings.

St Mary Magdalene’s Church is an expensively designed, “archaeologically correct” Decorated Gothic Revival church whose design was exactly in accordance with architectural norms of the mid-19th century. As a “large and imposing” building on a prominent, high corner site (a feature typical of the churches of St Leonards-on-Sea and Hastings) it makes a “handsome composition” within the townscape. Another characteristic feature, similar to other local churches, is the extensive use of locally quarried stone. The interior and exterior walls are of sandstone laid in ashlar blocks. The Decorated Gothic Revival design matches the typical style of a 14th-century church.

The plan consists of a clerestoried nave with aisles on the north and south sides, a chancel at a lower level, a buttressed four-stage tower with a beacon-style turret, a porch and a vestry on the north side The aisles have five bays each and are separated from the nave by arcades. The tower rises from the westernmost bay of the south aisle and has paired lancet windows on each face of its top (bell) stage. The chancel has a hammer beam roof in a Perpendicular Gothic style

English Heritage has listed the church at Grade II for its architectural and historical importance.

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