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Church of St Peter, Saint Leonards

Description: Church of St Peter

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 14 September 1976
English Heritage Building ID: 294071

OS Grid Reference: TQ8035809934
OS Grid Coordinates: 580358, 109934
Latitude/Longitude: 50.8608, 0.5614

Location: Cornfield Terrace, Hastings, East Sussex TN37 6EZ

Locality: Saint Leonards
Local Authority: Hastings Borough Council
County: East Sussex
Country: England
Postcode: TN37 6EZ

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Listing Text

757/22/509 ST PETER'S ROAD
Church of St Peter and associated chur
ch hall

1885 by James Brooks.

MATERIALS: Red brick with limestone dressings. Slate roofs with red clay crested ridge tiles.

PLAN: Nave, chancel, N and S aisles, S porch, W porch, NW baptistry, S chapel, N vestry with stair turret.

EXTERIOR: This is a large, powerfully massed town church on a corner site between a busy main road and housing of mixed dates. The style of the building is Early English with plate tracery and lancets and is characteristic of its architect, James Brooks. The nave is of five bays and has a tall clerestory with paired lancets and a small mandorla above them, all under a brick hoodmould. Each bay is demarcated by flat brick pilasters. The aisles are lean-tos with quite low side walls and which have pairs of single-light windows in each bay. At the NW corner is a polygonal baptistry with a steeply pointed roof. The vestry/organ chamber is a double transept arrangement with high transverse gables, each with a tall two-light window similar to the design in the clerestory. At the NE corner of this block is a circular turret with a stone roof rising to the eaves level of the transepts. The E end of the chancel, which fronts almost directly on to the road, has a large five-light window made up of grouped lancets and with small blind circles in the spandrels formed with the enclosing hood. The S chapel lies under its own gable and has an unusual stepped stringcourse running over and between the one-light windows: the chapel has its own S doorway. The W end has a four-light W window with a king mullion and quatrefoils and a shallow gabled W porch and paired doors under trefoil heads.

INTERIOR: The interior has unplastered red brick walls and a sense of great strength and solidity. The tall clerestory (roughly half the height of the nave) and large W window provide ample light into the nave. The arcades have five bays with round brick piers with stone capitals and plain slightly chamfered arches. Nairn and Pevsner note the originality of the form of the capitals, round `penetrated by truncated pyramids upside down'. The very tall stone chancel arch is as wide as the nave, is carried on wall shafts and further enhances the feeling of height to the building. The arches on either side of the chancel are treated differently from those in the nave. They have squat clustered piers and responds and multi-moulded arches. At first floor level on the N side are two plain brick openings designed to accommodate the organ. The panelled wagon roof of the nave is very tall and its main trusses consist of tie-beams with crown-posts. The chancel roof is a boarded wagon shape with moulded ribs. The SE chapel also has a ceiled wagon roof.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The most impressive feature is the combined pulpit (N), screen and lectern at the entrance to the chancel. This group consists of polished mottled pink and grey marble laid in stripes. The pulpit has quatrefoil piercings on its semi-circular drum and heavy dog-tooth ornament at the base of the drum and on the corbelled base. The lectern is very similar but lacks the piercings of the pulpit. There is a combined triple sedilia and piscina in the chancel with shallow cusped arches underneath straight-gabled hoods. At the E end of the chancel the walling below the E window is lined with alabaster. The reredos is a curiously narrow and tall piece with three gables covering a figure of Christ flanked by a pair of adoring angels. The chancel seating appears to be of the C20. There are extensive amounts of stained glass in the E window and the aisle windows.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: To the NW and close to the church is a hall which is probably contemporary with the church and probably also designed by James Brooks. The body of the building runs E-W with, on the N side, two gabled transepts between which is a low, linking structure. Reflecting the more secular nature of this building, Gothic detailing is almost absent although there are pointed C13 windows in the E wall of the main hall. The roofs are of modern ribbed clay tiles. The building is significant in forming a group with the church. Further W (and no longer owned by the church) is the large, former vicarage (now Streatfield House Day Care Centre), tile hung on the first floor and with irregular groupings of windows. S of the S aisle of the church is a wooden Calvary (but with the figure of Christ now missing).

HISTORY: St Peter's was built to serve the needs of Anglicans as this area of St Leonard's expanded in the late C19.

The architect, James Brooks (1825-1901), is one of the most respected Victorian church architects. Born at Wantage in Oxfordshire, he was articled to the London architect Lewis Stride from 1847 and commenced independent practice in 1851. His fame developed as he built a series of inner London churches from the early 1860s. These addressed the acutely-felt problem of providing dignified, capacious church accommodation on a modest budget in rapidly expanding, poor suburbs. He became architect to the diocese of Canterbury from 1888. St Peter's dates from the later part of Brooks's career, and unlike the late work of some late C19 church architects, it shows his powers of design undiminished. The muscular, almost severe Gothic style that made his reputation at inner London churches some twenty years before, is still in evidence and is used to produce a church of nobility and strength.

D Robert Ellleray. The Victorian Churches of Sussex, 1981, 63.
Ian Nairn and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Sussex, 1965, p 522.

The church of St Peter and associated hall, Hastings, are designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* It is an outstanding late Victorian town church achieving a fine effect with a relative economy of means.
* Its extensive use of red brick and strong massing are highly representative of its architect who is among the most respected of all C19 church designers.
* In addition to the overall design individual features such as the NW baptistry, NE turret, and the pulpit-screen-lectern grouping are of particular interest and quality.

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.