Historic churches at risk
Eight churches and chapels in Hastings and St Leonards are among 12 historic buildings and other sites in the borough which appear in the latest “at risk” register published nationally by Historic England.
Six of them – the chapel to the former convent of the Holy Jesus in Magdalen Road; the Church of All Souls in Athelstan Road; the Church of St Leonards on the seafront; the former United Reform Church on Cambridge Road; the Church of the Holy Trinity in Robertson Street; and the Church of Mary Magdalen in St Margaret’s Road – were already on the list from previous years. All of them are Grade II or II* and all recorded as being in “poor condition”. Two more, both in current use as parish churches with regular services, have now been added: Christ Church in London Road, St Leonards; and the Church of St Thomas and the English Martyrs in Magdalen Road.
Church of St Thomas and the English Martyrs – exterior and interior
CREDIT: Historic England
Christ Church is Church of England. Repairs to the tower and spire of are being carried out this year with funding from the Heritage Stimulus Fund, but further restoration and repair work is needed to secure its future. St Thomas is Roman Catholic. The “at risk” register records that the interior is currently deteriorating due to water penetration “caused by inappropriate building work, poor drainage of rainwater, and the roof requiring repairs”. However, David John, architect/surveyor for the London & South-East region of Historic England, said that both parishes “are very engaged in looking after their respective buildings. Historic England maintains a positive relationship with them, in order to find a way forward with both technical advice and potential sources of funding.”
Non-religious sites in Hastings which appear on the register are Pelham Arcade on the seafront above Pelham Place, another Grade II* construction registered as in poor condition; the statue of Queen Anne at Holmhurst St Mary’s on the Ridge; the remains of Manor House in Ore, a scheduled monument; and the conservation area of Hastings Town Centre.
That final entry is surely being addressed as part of the £24m-plus Town Deal Investment Plan currently being negotiated. Proposals to include redevelopment of St Leonards Church as a beneficiary of Town Deal funding were rejected earlier this year, though alternative grants are being sought. Other sites are unlikely to be so fortunate in the foreseeable future.
Rother district has six sites listed as at risk on the register including two Martello towers, at Rye Harbour and on Winchelsea Road; the ruins of the former friary church at Grey Friars, Winchelsea; and the Romano-British iron-working site at Beauport Park.
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