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Congregational Church of St Leonard, Including Attached Walls and Piers

A Grade II Listed Building in Hastings, East Sussex

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.8546 / 50°51'16"N

Longitude: 0.5591 / 0°33'32"E

OS Eastings: 580220

OS Northings: 109245

OS Grid: TQ802092

Mapcode National: GBR PX9.B56

Mapcode Global: FRA D61V.5M9

Plus Code: 9F22VH35+VJ

Entry Name: Congregational Church of St Leonard, Including Attached Walls and Piers

Listing Date: 10 September 2003

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1390718

English Heritage Legacy ID: 491240

Location: Hastings, East Sussex, TN37

County: East Sussex

Electoral Ward/Division: Central St Leonards

Built-Up Area: Hastings

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Christ Church and St Mary Magdalen, St Leonards

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

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St. Leonards

Description

LONDON ROAD
757/0/10073 St Leonards on Sea
St Leonards
Congregational Church,
including attached walls and
piers
10-SEP-2003

GV II

Congregational church (disused in 2008), built 1863-4 by W Habershon of the practice, Habershon, Spalding and Brock of London, under the patronage of Thomas Spalding of Ore Place Hastings.

MATERIALS. Coursed Ore sandstone, donated by Thomas Spalding, Bath stone ashlar dressings. The roof is thought to have been originally covered in oak shingles but is currently covered in C20 pantiles.

PLAN. West tower, originally with a copper clad spire taken down after the great storm of 1987. Undivided six bay nave and chancel, with a clerestorey and north and south aisles, east vestry. On the floor below is a hall, formerly a school room, which, because of the sloping site, is at ground level to the London Road elevation. The chancel faces north.

EXTERIOR. A symmetrical ritual west front with a central square tower of three stages. The top or bell stage has a paired lancet to each side with a granite colonnette and cinquefoil above. The second stage has paired lancets with a trefoil above. It has decorative stone bands between stages and end pilasters between the first and second stages, with crockets and stone gargoyles below the bell stage. Curved steps within a retaining wall lead to arched stone doorways with colonnettes and gables above to both tower and aisles. Aisle doorways have sex-foil windows above. The nave has a wooden trefoliated clerestorey.

Aisles have six gables with triple-traceried windows, with three designs to the top part: quatrefoil, trefoil or cross. Windows have fine quality, floral patterned stained glass. Gabled pilaster buttresses between the bays have a stone decorative band under the gable. The lower hall has a stone band and trefoil-arched windows, tracery in part removed, with a circular motif above, originally with stained glass. The traceried east window is circular. The lower two-storey building to the ritual east end is a vestry, with double trefoil windows to each floor. The lower hall is not visible on the north side. Attached to the church is a sandstone wall with stone piers at regular intervals, but the iron railings are no longer present.

INTERIOR. The base of the tower is plainly treated and leads to a lobby. The south end of the nave is enclosed by a screen of pointed-arched panels, and part-glazed doors with papier-mache moulded panels. Doors at the north end of the church have similar panels. The roof is of timber construction of arch-braced type with slender carved spandrels, with bolted cross braces and lined with diagonal boarding. Both main church and lower hall are supported on cast iron aisle columns. Walls have decorative painted or stencilled cusped arcades applied to the plaster, particularly the north wall flanking the chancel arch, which also has painted decoration. The arch is filled with a slender timber screen forming a reredos, and separates the vestry from the church. The lower section has a pointed-arched blind arcade enclosing pierced quatrefoils set in diagonal boarding. Above is a blind cusped arcade with scriptural passages, under a slender, internal, open, foiled window. The vestry is reached through a small door and narrow stairs to the rear. At the southern end a timber balcony is reached by stairs with a foiled balustrade, with a large central clock in a Gothic casing by Dobell of Hastings. An elaborate timber pulpit is enclosed by wrought iron railing panels with a timber rail. Fitted pine box pews are set in three ranges: a double range down the centre, with single side ranges outside each aisle. The fitted organ, installed in the early 1900s, is situated in the north-west corner within a panelled wooden screen. Original floor heating grilles in cast iron. Floor tiles to the ante-room under the tower combine encaustic and geometric tiles in a classic Gothic Revival form. On a transverse partition wall at the northern end of the lower hall are painted wall panels remaining from a scheme said to have been commissioned by Herbert Asquith, Prime Minister 1908-1916, although the connection is unproven. These depict Jerusalem, a landscape probably with a Biblical theme, and a large bird.

SOURCES:
Peter Howell and Ian Sutton, Faber Guide to Victorian Churches, 1989. p108.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION:
St Leonard's Congregational Church of 1863-1864 by W Habershon is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* the church, one of the most ambitious Nonconformist buildings in Sussex, is an example of a High Victorian Nonconformist church with a rich interior, and despite damage and depletion it clearly meets the criteria.

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