12 January 2016

Holy Trinity Church, Blatchington Road, Hove

Judy Middleton (2002 revised 2017)

 copyright © J.Middleton
Holy Trinity Church was photographed on 25 March 2015. It is surely one of the most photogenic of local churches.

A Rising Population

In 1861 Revd Walter Kelly set about creating a new church for his parishioners. He estimated the population of Cliftonville at 3,291 people and yet the only church in the area was St Andrew’s Old Church. After Brunswick Town, Cliftonville was the second largest development at Hove. Lower Cliftonville included Albany Villas, Medina Villas, Osborne Villas, Hove Place and St Catherine’s Terrace and Upper Cliftonville included George Street, Ventnor Villas, Hova Villas, Blatchington Road and part of Church Road.

There were almost 300 subscribers to the new church and the amount of money donated differed according to their circumstances. Thus Mrs Vallance and John Olliver Vallance of Hove Manor donated £5 each. But the total was still £1,800 short of the target.

Robert Upperton was a solicitor and a long-standing churchwarden of St Andrew’s Old Church and he was very surprised to find his name included in a printed list of subscribers when in fact he had not given anything. He wrote a letter of protest to Colonel Baines, the honorary secretary.

Site for a New Church

The site chosen for the new church was three-quarters of an acre north of Ventnor Villas and there was some correspondence on the subject because the land belonged to the trustees of the Stanford Estate, which covered a large swathe of Hove including where First, Second, Third, Fourth and Grand Avenue were later laid out, Sussex County Cricket Ground, Goldstone Football Ground, Hove Recreation Ground, Hove Park and Hove Town Hall.   

Legal Quibbles and Brick-earth

Revd Walter Kelly received a letter dated 19 February 1862 stating ‘You will please to bear in mind that any arrangement made by the Trustees, with reference to the site for a Church, can only be carried into effect with the sanction of the Court of Chancery and your statement that you agree to purchase at £300, the price fixed by the Trustees, only be considered as a treaty instead of as you call it an agreement.’ The reference to the Court of Chancery was because Ellen, the heiress to the Stanford Estate, was still under the age of twenty-one and therefore all affairs appertaining to the estate were looked after by trustees, supervised by the relevant court.

The letter also mentioned any brick-earth that might arise from the excavation. It should be remembered that Hove was once the source of valuable brick-earth before being covered with bricks and mortar; for example the Brunswick area and land at Aldrington. A further letter dated 22 February 1862 clarified the situation by stating that the brick-earth would be worth £200 and the fact must be recorded in the application to court. There were two options; either the brick-earth must be removed before church authorities took possession of the site, or an extra sum of money must be paid.

Whatever the outcome of these legal deliberations, it seems to be a fact that only £250 was paid for the site.

The Tender

The next step was to invite tenders from those firms wishing to build the church. Ten tenders were received.













 Mr Gane, who was apparently a well-known Brighton builder, was selected.

Architect and Architecture

James Woodman was the architect chosen to design the new church and he lived for many years at 26 Albany Villas while his business address was at 17 Prince Albert Street, Brighton. At the same time as Holy Trinity was being built, Woodman was also busy with plans to rebuild the famous Hobden’s Baths at Brighton that dated back to 1813. Hobden died in 1861 but his widow carried on the business and it must have been her decision to commission a design from Woodman, which was built in 1864. A large swimming bath was added the next year. The Baths were next door to the recently established Grand Hotel and there was direct access between the two

Holy Trinity was built of red brick with Bath stone dressings, embellished with black-brick stringcourses and variegated bricks above the entrances. How to describe the church’s architectural style has been a puzzle for the experts because it will not fit neatly into any known category. It has been described variously as Early English, or perhaps Italian / Gothic and possibly Lombardo / Gothic. Eclectic might be the best word to describe it.

 copyright © J.Middleton
This fine photograph of Holy Trinity Church dates from around 1908.

The church consisted of an apsidal chancel, a nave of four bays and a south porch. By the time everything was added up, the total cost came to £9,000. The tower was added later at a cost of £207 and the north aisle was constructed in 1868 and cost £1,200. The church was altered and repaired from 1882 to 1884 and it was again restored and renovated in 1910.

Consecration

The foundation stone was laid on 7 April 1863 and the church was consecrated on 15 June 1864. Three years from initial planning to finished project seems very swift indeed. The success of the church must have fulfilled Revd Kelly’s wildest expectations. For instance, when the first Confirmation Service was held at the church on 30 May 1876, no less than 341 candidates presented themselves before the bishop.

Holy Trinity was a Chapel of Ease at first to St Andrew’s Old Church. But when the magnificent All Saints Church was built in 1892 and became the new Hove Parish Church, Holy Trinity became part of that parish.

A Sad Funeral

  copyright © J.Middleton
Lilian Hibberd’s funeral at Holy Trinity 30 September 1910.

On 30 September 1910 a sad funeral was held at Holy Trinity for Miss Lilian Hibberd aged 27, formerly of 13 Portland Road. What happened was that she was riding her bicycle down Tisbury Road, and in crossing Church Road to go to Third Avenue she collided with a motor-bus. Newspaper accounts were quite graphic in those days ‘the wheel of the vehicle passed over her head, completely smashing the skull, and death was, of course, practically instantaneous’. A large crowd gathered to watch the coffin being carried into the church and Mr Wiles, the well-known photographer from George Street, was on hand to record the event and make a memorial postcard. There was also a floral tribute from the employees of Brighton & Hove General Omnibus Company.

Australian Cadets

In August 1911 a party of Australian Cadets visited Hove and marched smartly along Blatchington Road while Mr Wiles snapped away with his camera. The cadets were headed towards Holy Trinity Church to attend a service there. They were in the country as part of the celebrations for the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary on 22 June 1911. Before the cadets left Hove they were treated to a farewell concert at Hove Town Hall arranged by the local RNVR and afterwards Viscount Curzon, commander of the Sussex Division, gave an address. He stated the cadets had ‘opened his eyes in the matter of what Australia could produce in the way of soldiers’ and he was ‘amazed at the extraordinary physique which they possessed and the good spirit – he might say discipline among them’. Naturally enough his remarks were greeted with cheers and applause. In reply Major Wynne said the cadets represented some 43,000 men in New South Wales undergoing compulsory service.

External Pulpit

  copyright © J.Middleton
 Holy Trinity has an unusual outdoor pulpit. Just under the ledge a 
fading inscription starts with ‘Glory to God’ and then states
 the structure was a gift from a soldier and his wife.

This unusual feature was added in June 1912, the cost being met by an unidentified soldier and his wife. The pulpit is a testament to Holy Trinity’s evangelical tradition; it was thought that taking the Gospel outside in the open air might reach people who would not venture inside a church. Outdoor services were already very well attended before the pulpit was installed. For example, the popular and handsome Bishop of Lewes, who was also vicar of All Saints, conducted such services on 22 June 1910 and 11 September 1910. There was usually a military band in attendance, which might have been booked to give concerts on Brunswick Lawns and St Ann’s Well Gardens during the summer months.

copyright © J.Middleton
Photo left:- The Bishop of Lewes on his way to conduct an open-air service at Holy Trinity. 
Photo right:- The Bishop of Lewes, Right Revd Dr Leonard Hedley Burrows, was pictured with his wife in this photograph. Note the wide clerical collar and the buttoned gaiters. The Bishop was a favourite subject for photographers who knew there would be many buyers of the resulting postcard.

On 12 May 1912 the Bishop of Lewes addressed the outdoor congregation on Faith and Works. It seems the outside pulpit was not yet ready for use because he had to stand on a chair. When he took services Right Revd Dr Hedley Burrows, Bishop of Lewes, habitually wore voluminous lawn sleeves, gathered at the wrists, and he also favoured a Canterbury cap, which resembled a floppy mortar-board.  

It is ironic that this unique pulpit has been the prime cause of saving Holy Trinity from hasty demolition. There is no other church in Brighton and Hove with such a feature and it led to the church becoming a Grade II listed building on 2 November 1992.

Improvements

In 1923 the sanctuary was enlarged and the floor tiled and suddenly there was a quantity of oak there too; the new Holy Table was oak and the walls were lined with oak panels while the reredos and clergy and choir stalls were carved oak.

In 1926 the organ was restored and enlarged and its position recessed.

A bequest from Miss E.K. Bayliss paid for a clock to be installed in the tower in 1932.

In 1937 the church bell was re-cast by Gillett & Johnston of Croydon.

During the Second World War air-raid shelters were built in the grounds of the church.

In 1949 rooms were provided under the gallery. They were used as robbing rooms until 1975 when one of them was converted into an office for the vicar.

There was a flurry of activity in the 1950s when a vicarage designed by H. Hubbard Ford was built in the grounds in 1952; a church hall was added in 1953 on the north side.

In 1986 a brass collection plate was stolen; it bore the encouraging inscription ‘God Loves a Cheerful Giver’.

In March 1995 a satellite screen was installed inside the church so that people could watch popular evangelist Billy Graham speaking from Puerto Rico. His audience was estimated at 600 million worldwide.

In February 2001 a car knocked down part of the wall on the south side and shattered the gates into pieces.

Site Visit 12 September 1999

The entrances on the south and east sides of the tower are made more dramatic by a four-step pointed arch in yellow, black and red bricks with a triangular piece of dog-tooth mounding above. There is also a roundel above each doorway resembling a pie-chart.

Inside the church, the walls have been painted white, which sets off the stained glass windows to good effect. There is a high vaulted roof of dark wood with a roundel window at the apex, and a quantity of stone carving.

Each capital boasts a large and strongly carved decoration to top the three pillars on either side of the nave and the pillars on either side of the chancel arch. The north one of the latter has vine leaves, bunches of grapes, tendrils and ears of wheat while the last capital on the south side has a pecking bird on the east side and a dove on the west side. But all the capitals are different, some have stylised flowers and leaves and there are also horse chestnut leaves.

Above each of the nave capitals there is a carved roundel and above these there are carved supports for the roof.

The church has been re-ordered so that the new light-coloured pews face an extremely plain Communion Table on the north side. There is no altar and the chancel has been effectively abandoned. Services are conducted without the benefit of robes.

The main body of the church has been close-carpeted. The colour blue was chosen but unfortunately it is not the same hue as that employed in carpeting the chancel, which creates an unfortunate effect.

The old organ case, on the north side of the chancel, is prettily decorated. A new organ console on the south side of the chancel bears a brass plate recording that it was given in memory of Ernest Dudley King, founder member of Hove and Portslade Rotary Club, who was organist and choirmaster for 53 years and seven months. He died on 23 June 1996.

Windows

Chancel – There are three two-light windows in the chancel. The central light depicts John the Baptist baptising Jesus on the left and the Last Supper on the right. (Revd John Fraser Taylor gave the window in memory of his parents). Although fine in its way, this window breaks the symmetry of the others because the original was removed to the south wall. The companion windows still in place in the chancel are  ‘word’ windows in common with what was once the central light. In the left window the lettering appears on scrolls ‘Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost.’ The right-hand scrolls bear the message ‘This is my Body which is given for you. This cup is the New Testament of my blood which is shed for you.’ The colours in the patterns are predominantly blue and red but there is a fine, intricate pattern in black and white that gives a stippled effect. Above the chancel windows there are three cinquefoil windows; on the left the Agnus Dei with banner represent Jesus, the Lamb of God; in the centre a design involving a triangle and a trefoil represents the Holy Trinity and on the right, a dove represents the Holy Spirit. 

North Wall – There are four two-light windows, all with quatrefoils above, except the third one that has a cinquefoil.
1) Mary Magdalene wears a gold garment and a red cloak. She has long, fair hair and holds a jar of ointment; she gazes at the risen Christ. (The window was donated in memory of Revd W.C. Brant of Oriel College, Oxford who died on 26 August 1867).
2) Jesus is depicted with the children. Unfortunately, the features of his face have faded badly. He holds one child and there are two others with their mothers while two disciples look on. (The window was donated in memory of R.W. Jennings who died on 23 June 1869 aged 68, by his widow and youngest son).
3) Martha and Mary are arrayed in sumptuous garments in two shades of blue, two shades of green, scarlet lake, pink and patterned white while Jesus wears robes of ruby and purple. The painting of his face is a fine, traditional portrait that has not faded at all. (The window was given in memory of General Peter Lodwick who died on 28 August 1872 aged 90 and of his grandson Charles Henry Eastwick Lodwick who died at sea on 10 July 1876 aged 20). Above in the cinquefoil, an angel holds an anchor.
4) Jesus is taken down from the cross with a weeping Mary on the left; the crown of thorns and the nails are laid out on the ground in front. The other scene depicts Jesus in happier times with Martha and Mary in their house at Bethany; Mary sits at his feet to listen to his teaching while Martha is busy at the table. (The window was given in memory of Elizabeth Freer, wife of R.W. Lodwick, who died in Madras on 14 January 1877, and of Elizabeth Mary and Emily Marion, wife and daughter of General Lodwick who died on 14 April 1873 and 3 July 1894).

The firm of Ward & Hughes of London were responsible for all these windows with the exception of the Mary Magdalene one, which was made by Mr Hardman of Birmingham.

South Wall – This is another Ward & Hughes window and depicts Jesus rising from the tomb clad in red and blue robes with two astonished and helmeted soldiers at his feet; the right-hand window depicts the Ascension. Above there is a trefoil with three angels holding a Star of David. (The window was given in memory of Colonel William Lodwick who died on 25 May 1871 aged 50).

This window was originally installed as the central light in the chancel. It is known as the Alpha and Omega window because the words appear in gold against a deep blue background and the purple border is interspersed with gold squares. (Mrs Hudson presented the window). Above in a quatrefoil, an angel holds a scroll proclaiming ‘Allelulia’.

The next window comes as something of a shock because of the traditional style of all the other windows. It is in fact one of the few, modern, abstract stained-glass windows in Hove. The work utilises an extraordinary series of angular pieces of blue and green glass of varying hues. The immediate effect is the glorious quality of colour but trying to identify the figure of Jesus walking on the waves is a problem. Peter is easy to distinguish, rapidly sinking in the water, wearing clothes of a dull, angry red. (The Revd W.O. Oelsner presented the window after completing 22 years of service in the church). Above, there is a quatrefoil featuring a dove.

The Lodwicks

As can be noted from the above memorial windows, there are several mentions of the Lodwick family. Like so many Hove residents the Lodwicks had connections to the Raj. General Peter Lodwick must have had an iron constitution because the Indian climate did not fell him as it did so many of his compatriots and when he retired home he lived to the ripe old age of 90. Another family member Elizabeth Freer, wife of R.W. Lodwick, was not so fortunate and died in Madras in 1877. General Peter Lodwick was an officer of the East India Company and in 1824 he was Resident at Sattara from where he despatched a stream of letters back to his London superiors. His name has been given to a prominent viewpoint (Lodwick Point) in the Western Ghats close to Maharashtra, which was the summer capital of the Bombay Residency.

Colonel William Lodwick was an officer of the Bengal Staff Corps, and was formerly a captain with the 12th Native Infantry. He died in 1871 at the age of 50 at Cliftonville (Hove) and was buried in the churchyard of St Andrew’s Old Church, Hove. His widow Georgina Maria did not die until 1911 when she was aged 81. The Colonel must have been fond of his sister Anne who is also remembered on the gravestone. Possibly she lived in his household because she was a widow and she was also several years his senior being aged 69 when she died in 1873. Unfortunately, the tombstone is not to be found today because the north part of the churchyard has ceased to exist. Instead, their bodies lie somewhere beneath the prosaic car park belonging to Tesco’s. 

Memorials

There is a marble tablet on the north wall of the chancel set in a frame of rose marble; it is to the memory of Revd John Fraser Taylor who died on 12 May 1909.
On the south wall of the chancel there is a tablet to Revd F. Walker who was curate for 27 years and died on 25 September 1893 aged 64.
There is another memorial to a curate and it is on the south side of the chancel arch; it is dedicated to Revd Frederick Thomas Andrewes who died on 18 February 1917. He ministered at the church for 21 years, thirteen years as a curate and eight years as vicar.
Other memorials are dedicated to Edward John Barrance, a chorister for over 65 years, who died in November 1965.
John Quenault, verger and benefactor
Alfred Easton, chorister for 51 years, who died on 25 April 1921 and his wife Annie who died 19 April 1923.

The church seems to have inspired long service. Another stalwart was George Willard who was clerk for 42 years and served four vicars. He was one-time manager of the well-known Brighton restaurant called Mutton’s. During the last ten years of his life, his Alsatian dog accompanied him everywhere. He died in September 1935 aged 77.

Great War Memorial

On the west wall there is a three-panel wooden memorial. It is somewhat unusual because the panels on either side record the men associated with the church who served in the armed services in the Great War and presumably returned home safely; there are 62 names on the left panel and 59 names on the right. The central panel lists the names of 25 men who were killed but only eight of the names mentioned are engraved on the official war memorial brass tablets in the vestibule of Hove Library. They are marked # in the following list. The Hove authorities were strict about the names chosen to go on the official war memorial and the men had to have a solid association with Hove. Therefore, the names at Holy Trinity not included must have belonged to relatives of the congregation or perhaps they worshipped at Holy Trinity but did not live at Hove.

Ashbery, G.
Balcombe, S.H.
Blakeway, C.
Brooker, F.W.
Brooker, G.
Cole, C.E.
Foster, L.
Fulford, S.
Gates, R.
Grout, W.
Henson, G.R.
Hester, E.H.
Morgan, A.
Oke, R.W.
Oram, R.
Owen, A.A.
Partridge, W.
Penny, E.G.T.
Scott, T.
Southwell, H.K.M. RN
Sparkes, R.
Taylor, G.S.
Vaughan, H.G.
Wales, A.E.
Wright, R. 

Captain Edgar Hazel Hester, Royal Inniskillin Fusiliers was killed in action on 16 August 1917 at the 3rd Battle of Ypres.

Lieutenant Henry Kenneth Martin Southwell RN of submarine L-55 died in the Baltic Sea on 4 June 1919. He was the son of Right Revered Henry Kemble Southwell who became Bishop of Lewes in 1920 and who had organized the Army chaplains in the Great War.

Private Arthur Edward Wales 9/Royal Fusiliers was killed in action on 4 August 1916 at the Somme

Recent Times

In 2002 there was a Pastoral Review because it was time to evaluate the many Church of England churches in Brighton and Hove at a time of soaring costs and dwindling congregations. To put it brutally, there were just too many buildings and too few people using them. But the Church of England is both blessed and burdened with irreplaceable ancient churches as well as important Victorian structures, which most people want to keep but nobody has the money for and the government is certainly not interested in taking them on.

It was decided to close Holy Trinity in 2007. It was at first thought that demolition was probably inevitable given the desperate shortage of land in the city and despite the Grade II listed building status. It seems the Diocese of Chichester would not have minded too much if the church were demolished because that very same year the Diocese was in talks with a housing association to sell the land so that a 44-flat complex could be built. Local people were not amused at the prospect and a petition against such as idea quickly garnered some 300 signatures.

  copyright © J.Middleton
This photograph shows Holy Trinity’s unusual doorway in detail. Unfortunately, the ‘Welcome’ sign is out of date because no worshippers have stepped inside for eight years.

copyright © J.Middleton
The tower is an arresting sight especially 
when its magnificent brick-work is 
viewed against a blue sky.
Then In September 2008 came news that Brighton & Hove City Council was considering buying the site because there was a desperate need for more primary school places. But this scheme fell through and eventually additional school places were provided at the refurbished Connaught Road premises.

Also in September 2008 Dr Ian Dungarnell, director of the Victorian Society put Holy Trinity Church at the top of his list as the most endangered Victorian structure in the entire country. He hoped that by doing this, it would call attention to the merits of the building.

In January 2015 there were plans to install the Sackville Medical Centre and Central Hove Surgery within Holy Trinity over three floors. Unfortunately, the plans included an onsite pharmacy. Valerie Paynter of saveHove said ‘I don’t see any justification for this little pill-box pharmacy.’ She also pointed out the area was well stocked with two pharmacies already.

There was also the idea that the growing Coptic Christian community could make good use of the building as their present home at the erstwhile St Thomas’s Church in Davigdor Road was not large enough for their purposes. But nothing came of that either. A general silence reigns.

In April 2015 there seemed to be progress at last on plans for the church. Apparently, Dr Tim McMinn has received funding to convert the interior of Holy Trinity into the proposed Sackville Medical Centre but must wait until planning permission is received from Brighton & Hove City Council. Meanwhile. Health Minister Jeremy Hunt visited various health facilities in the city and looked at Holy Trinity too. (Argus 20 April 2015)

Clergy

Revd John Fraser Taylor – He was born at Brighton, the son of Captain I. Taylor, one of Nelson’s officers. It was most probably the same Captain Taylor who conceived the idea of creating a mobile breakwater, which was tested off Hove Beach in December 1844. Revd J.F. Taylor was curate of Preston cum Hove at St Andrew’s Old Church for twelve years before his appointment to Holy Trinity. It was said to be largely through his energy that the church came to be built. Local connections notwithstanding, some people felt justified in grumbling about what they considered to be the abuse of the choir stalls. Revd Taylor had despatched the mixed choir to the other end of the church while people who liked a prominent position sat grandly in the choir stalls. But the choir was not exempt from criticism either because apparently they did not exert themselves sufficiently to sing ‘amen’ at the end of the collect, leaving it for the priest to do. Revd. Taylor was noted as an eloquent preacher. He died on 12 May 1909.

Revd F. Walker – He was a Cambridge (Sidney Junex) graduate and he ran a small and successful school at 108 Lansdowne Place, Hove. He was a Sunday curate only but he remained connected to Holy Trinity for a remarkable 27 years. He was known as a hearty, jolly man and children remembered his voice booming on about such subjects as the plagues of Egypt. In his day there was an afternoon service on Sundays and children walked to the church, which in summertime was still surrounded on three sides by wheat fields. In the 1870s an evening service was substituted for the afternoon one. Revd Walker always dined with the vicar and his family on Christmas Day. Revd Walker died at the age of 63 in 1893.

Revd Frederick Thomas Andrewes – He was the second incumbent of Holy Trinity and became vicar in 1909. He was connected with Holy Trinity for 21 years, spending thirteen years as a curate and eight as a vicar. It was during his time that the external pulpit was added to the church. Revd Andrewes died on 18 February 1917 aged 64 and was buried in Hove Cemetery where a Celtic cross surmounts his grave.

Revd Ernest Martin – It does not happen very often that an ordinary article in a humble church magazine should acquire fame throughout the world by being online in Trove (Australian newspapers). But then once read, it certainly does catch one’s attention. Of course it was helped on its way to fame by an arresting headline about birds haunting the vicar of Holy Trinity. Today, we would probably say it was an amazing case of sychronicity. It starts off when Revd Martin was serving in Norwich and he baptised three babies with surnames Gosling, Starling and Martin with godmothers Miss Raven and Miss Crowe. A week later he married a policeman by the name of Eagle whose bride was a Miss Swann. He prepared Olive Jay for confirmation; Mrs Bunting was a church worker and Mrs Wrenn ran the Mothers’ Union. When he moved to a parish at Deptford he encountered two lay readers called Mr Swallow and Mr Thrush. When he went to Guildford Mr Cecil Bird read the lesson on his first Sunday there and he also met the Finch family. The vicar lodged in a house at Nightingale Road, which had a pub on the corner called The Parrots. It seemed that his encounters with ‘birds’ ceased once he moved to Hove and he was aged 60 when he wrote the article in 1949.

Revd Willy Oelsner – He was the seventh vicar of Holy Trinity and was something of a controversial figure. He was German by birth and he had been a Lutheran. In 1939 he arrived in Britain as a refugee from the Nazis and he was appointed curate at St Peter’s Church, Preston. But it was not long before the authorities caught up with him and he was interned as an enemy alien. The Bishop of Chichester, the remarkable Bishop Bell, came to his rescue by appointing him his personal chaplain. Subsequently Revd Oelsner served as a curate at Moulescoomb from 1941 to 1944. In 1950 Bishop Bell appointed him to Holy Trinity. By then Revd Oeslner was a naturalised British subject but the bishop’s decision caused uproar in the parish with members of the congregation protesting and many leaving altogether. But Revd Oelsner won people over and after such a rocky start he became a popular figure. He led the picket line outside Sainsbury’s in Blatchington Road in 1971 when that firm decided to open its doors on Good Friday for the first time at Hove. When Revd Oelsner retired, he gave the church its only modern-style stained-glass window.

Vicars

1864-1909 – Revd John Fraser Taylor
1909-1917 – Revd Frederick Thomas Andrewes
1917-1930 – Revd T.J. Bullick
1930-1944 – Revd E.A. Chard
1944-1947 – Revd J. Lowry Campbell
1948-1950 – Revd Ernest E.J. Martin
1950-1971 – Revd Willy G. Oelsner
1972-1986 – Revd Leonard C. Sims

Revd David Acott became vicar in 1986 and Revd Chris Spinks was there in the 1990s

 copyright © J.Middleton
This photograph provides a closer look at the variegated brickwork adorning the window surrounds.

Planning Approval

The Argus (11 July 2015) carried the headline GPs to open on old church site. It sounds like a simple planning approval for the creation of a medical centre inside Holy Trinity Church to accommodate Sackville Medical Centre from Sackville Road and Central Hove Surgery from Ventnor Villas. But it is not as easy as that. For example, plans for the whole site, including the north part where the church hall is situated, were not brought forward. It raises the question as to how planning permission can be granted if there are not detailed plans for the entire site? Presumably, it has been done to forestall possible Government intervention if Brighton & Hove City Council is perceived to be dragging its feet.

At first glance there seems to be overwhelming public support for the creation of the medical centre. Official reports state there were 242 letters of representation plus an additional 42 in favour and only five against; the Victorian Society is also against the plans. But if you were a patient at one of the affected practices, no doubt you would vote for sparkling new medical facilities and never mind the architecture.

It is often said that a good photograph is worth a thousand words and the one in the Argus provides graphic proof of the architectural horrors in store. A particular sore point is the flat-roofed, uninspired pharmacy. It would perhaps be tolerable if it were part-hidden behind the original, listed, flint wall. But 50% of the Goldstone Villas flint wall must be demolished, together with trees, including a venerable fig, to be replaced with a mini-brick wall with railings. Then there is the new entrance, which in no way blends in with the church because it is unnecessarily tall and roofed with slate.

Another thorny question is about the lovely stained glass windows. Why must all of them be removed? Of course had a local church congregation that wanted to move to Holy Trinity been allowed to do so, this question would not arise. As it is, the proposal to remove the windows is officially regretted. An odd sort of compromise is the idea of preserving the tracery but how would that accommodate modern double-glazing?

Then there is the roof with the prospect of extension in the valleys between the pitched roofs together with the insertion of no less than 35 roof lights.

In conclusion, it must be said that the fa├žade and surroundings are to be so altered that the integrity of Holy Trinity’s architecture would be compromised. Of course the official line is that the church is ‘not an outstanding example of church architecture’. In that case why is it a Grade II listed building?

  copyright © D.Sharp
Trinity Medical Centre building was completed in 2017

Sources

Argus 13 March 2007 / 15 September 2008 / 27 September 2008 / 16 January 2015
Elleray, D. Robert Victorian Churches of Sussex (1970)
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Holy Trinity PCC A Short History (1976)
Middleton, Judy Brighton and Hove in Old Photographs; A Second Selection (1994)
Middleton, Judy Hove and the Raj (1983)
Middleton, Judy Hove in Old Picture Postcards (1983)
saveHove  website
Trove (on-line Australian newspapers)

Documents at The Keep

PAR 387/10/137/144 Holy Trinity
PAR 387/10/138/1-68 Holy Trinity 1862 correspondence

Copyright © J.Middleton 2015
design by D.Sharp