Two Churches, One Parish
Set above the High Street, St Clement’s Church, a perpendicular construction with vaulted tower, dates back to 1377. Across the Bourne, All Saints, of a similar design, was completed in 1436. Both buildings are Grade 2* listed.
The father of Titus Oates, fabricator of the Popish Plot in the reign of Charles II, was Rector of All Saints. Oates junior was baptised at the church and later got into trouble for preaching there even though he was not ordained. Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti married his model Elizabeth Siddal in St Clement’s in 1860. His sister, Christina Rossetti, famed for her religious poetry, lived on the High Street when visiting Hastings and was a regular worshipper at St Clement’s.
A trust, the Two Towers Trust, was set up in the 1990s to keep both churches maintained, following proposals to close St Clement’s. Its funds can be drawn upon for major repair works at either church. A large legacy recently bequeathed by a local parishioner has enabled major internal refurbishment to be carried out within St Clement’s. But, according to new priest-in-charge, Rev. Paul Hunt, around £400,000 is needed to pay for repairs and renewals between the two churches. He hopes that the trust will be able to contribute.
Rev. Hunt says that he regards one of his main tasks as devising a strategic plan for the long-term viability of both. It is likely to include projects to increase the profile of the church buildings, with guided tours and other events aimed at attracting tourist revenue.
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