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Church of St John the Baptist, Brighton

Description: Church of St John the Baptist

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 13 October 1952
English Heritage Building ID: 479505

OS Grid Reference: TQ3210203881
OS Grid Coordinates: 532102, 103881
Latitude/Longitude: 50.8194, -0.1260

Location: 10 Bristol Road, Brighton, Brighton and Hove BN2 1JF

Locality: Brighton
County: Brighton and Hove
Country: England
Postcode: BN2 1JF

Incorrect location/postcode? Submit a correction!


Listing Text

BRIGHTON

TQ3203NW BRISTOL ROAD
577-1/48/82 (North side)
13/10/52 Church of St John the Baptist

II*

Roman Catholic church. Designed and built between 1832 and
1835 by William Hallett; sculpture by John Carew. The ritual
east end extended 60 feet in 1875 to designs by Gilbert Robert
Blount; further additions between 1887 and 1890; wall
decorations by Nathaniel Hubert Westlake from 1890 to 1921.
Stucco. Roof of slate.
PLAN: sanctuary of one bay; choir of 2 bays with north and
south chapels of 2 bays; aisleless nave; organ loft at the
ritual west end; baptistery at the ritual south-west corner of
the nave; entry porch at ritual north-west; entrance porch at
ritual west end. Greek Revival Style; east end executed in
Renaissance Revival style.
EXTERIOR: ritual west front treated as a temple front with
pediment to gabled roof and entablature bearing Latin
inscription: Deo sub invoc. S. Joannis Bapt. The wall below
has pilasters of the Composite Order to the outside corners;
distyle in antis porch of the same order in the centre of the
facade. Flat-arched entries to returns of porch; main entrance
in centre of porch, flat arched with architrave, entablature
and dentil cornice; pediment above with raking dentil cornice.
Above centre entrance is a flat-arched niche with architrave
holding a statue of the Patron of the Church, St John the
Baptist; the niche has a sill band which continues across the
front walls on either side of the entrance. Above this sill
band in the front walls is a flat-arched window with
architrave; opening below the sill band set in pedimented
aedicule is blocked. The south elevation was formerly hidden
by Cell Block and Refectory of St Joseph's convent, No.3
Bristol Road, recently demolished; on the north elevation
there is one pilaster of the Composite order between each nave
window. Porch to north-west of c1890 is single storey, with
round-arched entrance in the ritual north face. Entrance
framed by a Tuscan pilaster supporting arch with architrave
and enlarged keystone, the whole, in turn, set in aedicule
consisting of a pair of Tuscan pilasters with exaggerated
entasis, entablature and pediment.
INTERIOR: choir and sanctuary are barrel vaulted with panelled
transverse ribs; north and south chapels are cross vaulted.
Transverse ribs in the sanctuary spring from pilasters of the
Composite order and in the choir from a round-arched arcade on
2 bays, supported by a pilaster to the east wall, a column,
and a square pier at the west end of the choir; responds along
the north and south walls; all in the Composite Order; the
arches have architraves. Viewed from the nave, the chancel
arch and arches to side chapels treated as an arcade of 3
bays, with the central bay higher and broader than the sides;
keystones of each treated as a console bracket; steps down to
floor of nave. There is a segmental-arched window with
shouldered and eared architrave and projecting sill in each
bay of the sanctuary and choir. There are wood screens
separating the north and south chapels from the choir, and a
C17 Belgian altar rail, added in 1890. Nave is rectangular in
plan with a plain dado and a dentil cornice at the top of the
wall; along each side wall are 4 flat-arched windows. In the
north and south walls under the second window from the east
end is a segmental-arched door with eared architrave. Ceiling
of nave plain, pierced by 3 ventilation ducts in the form of
rosettes, added in 1890. At the west end is an organ gallery
supported on 2 cast-iron columns with capitals of acanthus and
palm leaves; entablature and painted gallery front which is
topped by a wooden screen of thin, turned colonnettes on high
socles; these support a nine-bay arcade of round and cusped
arches; entablature above. Between each socle is a metal
filigree railing. The centre bay of the arcade is the widest
and gives a view of the organ. The baptistery, finished in
1889 and entered through a round diaphragm arch, contains the
stone, low-relief sculpture of St John the Baptist and Christ.
executed by Carew in c1835, which was the original altar
piece.
Furnishings, decorations and monuments: the south chapel
dedicated to Our Lady, stone altar consecrated in 1875,
aediculed niche above with statue of the Virgin and Child. The
north chapel dedicated to the Sacred Heart of the same date;
aediculed niche above the stone altar holds statue of Christ
holding the Sacred Heart. The Baptistery, added in 1889 and
entered through a round diaphragm arch, contains a stone,
low-relief sculpture executed by Carew in c1835, and served as
the original altarpiece; the subject: John the Baptist
baptizing Christ; pavement of encaustic tile; round font on
acanthus leaf base. Carew also carved 2 Composite capitals
which flanked the original altar; it is likely that these were
reused in the rebuilding of the east end. Under windows next
to the organ gallery is a 3-bayed, round-arched niche in which
sits the figure of a saint. The nave benches and pulpit date
from 1890, in which year Nathaniel Hubert Westlake began the
elaborate painted decorations which cover most of the interior
wall surfaces; at the same time Westlake also designed the
windows. Of especial note is the altar piece, an oil painting
on canvas, which shows Christ Enthroned and Adored, with
prophets and saints attending. The panels between the nave
windows form a narrative cycle which depict the Life of the
Church's patron saint; Westlake's last works, dating from 1917
to 1921, are a memorial to Father Johnston who served as
assistant priest, then rector from 1876 to 1916. In the south
wall next to the organ gallery, monument to Maria Fitzherbert
(1756-1837), the Catholic widow who was married to the Prince
of Wales in 1783 and who was disowned by the Prince Regent in
1811, although she continued to frequent Brighton. The
monument shows her as widow with the Lamp of Memory and
kneeling before the broken gospels, assuming the form either
of Fidelity or Religion. She is wearing 3 wedding rings as
Catholic ecclesiastical law requires. She was patroness of
this congregation. In the same position on the north wall, a
memorial to the Rev. Edward Cullin (1776-1850), who built the
church.
HISTORICAL NOTE: Hallett based his design closely on the
Catholic church of St Mary, Moorfields, London, completed by
the architect John Newman between 1817 and 1820. In the late
1880s, designs for a complete remodelling of the church in a
Romanesque/Italian Renaissance style were made by SJ Nicholl;
these were shown at the Royal Academy in 1887 and published in
"The Builder" for 21 May, 1887 and 1 September, 1888.
(Pugh T: The Church of Saint John the Baptist, Brighton
1835-1985: Hove: 1985-: 11-36).





Listing NGR: TQ3210203881

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.




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