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Christ Church, Hastings

Description: Christ Church

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 14 September 1976
English Heritage Building ID: 293983

OS Grid Reference: TQ8148610651
OS Grid Coordinates: 581486, 110651
Latitude/Longitude: 50.8669, 0.5778

Location: St Helen's Park Road, Hastings, East Sussex TN34 2TB

Locality: Hastings
Local Authority: Hastings Borough Council
County: East Sussex
Country: England
Postcode: TN34 2TB

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Listing Text

757/18/408 LACTON ROAD

1878-81 by R H Carpenter. W tower, 1890.

MATERIALS: Local stone rubble with freestone dressings. Slate roofs.

PLAN: Nave, lower chancel, N and S aisles, W tower, S porch (leads into tower), room to N of church attached by a modern link.

EXTERIOR: The church is built in the Early English style with lancet windows being the dominating motif. The buttressed, lean-to aisles have paired lancets. The side walls of the chancel have single lancets while the E window has three graded lancets with cusping and quatrefoil motifs in the heads. There is no clerestory. The bulky W tower is a key visual feature of the church. It is embattled, has gabled, crocketted corner pinnacles and has a pyramidal roof. It also has a polygonal SW stair turret and angle buttresses which rise to the bottom of the belfry stage before turning into clasping ones. The fenestration on the W face includes three trefoil-headed one-light windows with carved dripstones lighting the baptistry, three very large lancets above, a quatrefoil in a roundel, and paired, shafted windows with punched trefoils in the heads for the belfry windows. Below the belfry stage is a clock stage with, on each side, a clock face placed within a lozenge frame. The porch leads, unusually, into the base of the tower. It has a moulded arched entrance and a row of four windows on the W face.

INTERIOR: Apart from the decorated surfaces, the walls are plastered and whitened. There are five-bay arcades with round piers with moulded capitals. There is a substantial arch-braced roof on moulded corbels over the nave, lean-to aisle roofs with curved braces springing from moulded corbels on the arcades. Over the chancel is a pointed boarded wooden roof, divided into panels with moulded ribs, the panels painted. The chancel arch is moulded and has shafts with moulded capitals. The wall above is painted with Christ in Majesty by Hardman and Co. and forms part of the chancel decoration scheme of 1899.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The lavish 1899 decorations and fittings in the chancel (the donor ordered the work to be of the very best craftsmanship and materials `regardless of cost') contrast with the plainer nave, but the link is a complete set of windows by Hardman and Co., introduced at different dates but consistent in style. There is a tall iron chancel screen on a low arcaded alabaster wall with Purbeck shafts. The wall is continuous with and matches the base of the alabaster and Purbeck marble pulpit. The three-bay alabaster reredos has a lavish canopy, coloured marble shafts and white marble angels. There is an alabaster dado on the E, N and S walls of the chancel with, on the E wall, good quality opus sectile paintings of saints on gold glass mosaic backgrounds; oak panelling to the choir, N and S walls with wall-paintings; and a mosaic floor. There is a walnut carved altar table; brass communion rail; oak choir stalls and organ case. The baptistery at the W end of the church in the base of the tower under a choir gallery, is located behind a triple arcade with a frieze of quatrefoils over. The font, presented in 1900, is a large sculpted Carrara marble angel holding a shell, and is modelled on the famous and often-copied example by Bertel Thorwaldsen in the Metropolitan church of Denmark in Copenhagen. The baptistery was refurbished as a memorial in 1909, with the work executed by Boulton's of Cheltenham: it has a panelled and carved dado and a memorial plaque. There are plain open nave benches with shaped ends which retain their umbrella holders. The fifteen stained glass windows by Hardman's date from between 1887 and 1902, and makes a major contribution to the quality of the church. There is patterned glass only in the N aisle, but all the other windows are glazed by Hardman's, including figures under both C14 and C15 style gables.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: Attached to the church by a modern link is a hall in Gothic Revival style, including a three-light W window with a pair of circles in the tracery. Its side windows are plain and are of one-light each.

The church was built on the Blacklands Farm Estate amongst C19 stuccoed villas. It was funded by Charles Hay Frewen, the owner of the estate. Christ Church became a separate parish in 1881.

The architect, Richard Herbert Carpenter (1841-93), was the son of the important early Victorian church architect Richard Cromwell Carpenter. After Carpenter senior's early death in 1855 his practice was taken over by William Slater whom the younger Carpenter joined as a partner from 1863 until Slater's death in 1872. R H Carpenter's masterwork is his magisterial Lancing College chapel in Sussex, begun in 1868.

D Robert Elleray, The Victorian Churches of Sussex, 1981, p 62.
Ian Nairn and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Sussex, 1965, p 520.
R Ralph, Christ Church, Blacklands: The Centenary History of a Later Victorian Church, 1981.
Information from the Rev. Fentiman.

Christ Church, Hastings is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* It is an example of Victorian Gothic Revival church-building with an interior of outstanding interest due to an exceptionally rich decorative scheme, fittings and stained glass added some twenty years after the building of the church.
* The exterior unaltered and of characteristic local stone, has a strong presence in this suburban setting.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.