History notes

Image of Church of the Annunciation
Originally taken for Hanovernet
Image of the boys school, now Hanover Community Centre.
Originally taken for Hanovernet

The Church of the Annuciation was built in 1864 to serve the increasing poor population of Hanover. Aware of the poverty of many of the parish, the Reverend Arthur Douglas Wagner ensured that, unlike many other Brighton churches, no pew rate would be charged.

A school was provided for girls and infants, and a boys’ school proposed in Southover Street – the building now used as the Hanover Community Centre.

According to Hilly Laine to Hanover, “An observer at the time [1895] recalls: ‘Within half an hour’s walk of the fashionable parts of Brighton, halfway up a steep hill from the Lewes road, stands the Church of the Annunciation. The parish is compact, no house within it being more than five minutes walk from the church. Fifty years ago there were only a few houses scattered here and there among market gardens, made on the side of what once formed part of the Brighton Downs. Now there are 16 streets of small, modern houses for artisans; eight streets lie in parallel lines, intersected by the upward road. Many of the houses contain two or more families, while more than one of them are occupied by ladies who devote themselves to work amongst the poorer brothers and sisters.'”

The church’s Annunciation window was designed by Edward Burne-Jones and executed by William Morris, in memory of Elizabeth Austin Attree, the first parishioner of the church.

Comments about this page

  • I went to Sunday school there in 1960 and the nuns from the convent opposite would be there. Does anyone remember the lovely Sister Claire who would pop in for a cup of tea with my mum in Hanover Terrace .

    By Val Harber(Nee Hall) (02/09/2007)
  • She was my godmother I remember her very well. The nuns were very unlike the modern perceptions of nuns as brutal bullies, one or two were strict but most were really nice. We used to go to their Mission House after Christmas Day service to get a bag of sweets and look at their crib.  I still go to the church!

    By Helen Nevitt (29/01/2008)
  • In 1951 I attended confirmation classes given by Sister Audrey and Sister Elsa Mary, they also rehearsed us for the yearly stage drama held in the Coleman Street Church Hall. I was supposed to appear as the maid in Slug Death but got so scared I ran off the stage during the rehearsal! Then came the wonderful Father Bullivant, he became a part of our family and joined us every Christmas for our evening sing song.  What wonderful memories I have.

    By Violet Hammond (13/08/2008)
  • I used to go to this church in the 60s and can remember the same thing about going to the Nuns’ Mission House and looking at the Crib and getting a bag of sweets after Christmas morning service. My older brother David was an alter boy when Father Bullivant was the priest, I did try to follow in my brother’s foot steps by becoming an alter boy but at the time of the sacrament I had to bang the little gong when the bread was broken. The ball end of the hammer came off as I banged the gong and instead of staying where I was, I ran after the ball end – I was never asked to be an alter boy again…I had to do three Our Fathers and three Hail Mary’s. Oh HAPPY DAYS

    By Donald Waller (09/06/2011)
  • I went to the Annunciation for many years in the 50s and 60s, F Bullivant was priest. I remember the sisters very well, particularly Sister Claire and Sister Mary-Joseph but I cannot remember the order they belonged to, I think they retired to Wales, does anyone remember?

    By Mary (nee Bourne) (04/08/2012)
  • I too remember the nuns at the Annunciation Church, and agree with my cousin Helen Nevitt’s previous comment of 29/01/2008. I found the nuns to be fairly strict, but definitely friendly, and I certainly had respect for them. I hold warm and happy memories of going to Mass every Christmas morning and then going with the nuns to the Mission House in Lincoln Street to sing a Christmas Carol around the crib. These memories for me go back to the ’60s and I (along with my cousin Helen and other family members) continue to regularly go the church where I am a member of the Parochial Church Council. I also sing in the choir – now there’s a big change from the ’60s, when only males were permitted to sing in the choir! To me the Annunciation is very special and it is a big and important part of my life. It really is a “hidden gem” in the Hanover area of Brighton and I feel it is well worth a visit. Mass is at 11:00 every Sunday.

    By Rosemary Mitchener (nee Faulkner) (31/10/2012)
  • Dear Helen and Rosemary, I think we must have been to the Annunciation together. I am still hoping someone will remember which order the sisters were and where the mother house is or was? I live in Chichester now and haven’t been to the Annunciation for many years , what a beautiful church.

    By Mary (09/06/2013)
  • I was a choir boy at the church of the Annunciation in the year 1958 with my friend Brian Doo. We used to go to what we called the nunnery and help with the garden. I lived in Lincoln Cottages .and went to Finsbury Road school. Happy days

    By Colin Taylor (02/07/2013)
  • We are mounting an exhibition about the history of the Annunciation to celebrate our 150th anniversary. We would love to hear any reminiscences on here from former parishioners or residents of Hanover who came into contact with the church in the last century. Particularly any choir members from the 1940s, 50s and 60s. 

    By Stephen Plaice (PCC Secretary at the Annunciation) (02/12/2013)
  • The Moores – my mother’s maiden name – lived at 99 and of three sisters all were married there. At five, I attended Sunday School in Hanover St and Father Power asked if I could sing. “Come back when you’re nine”, he said. Just before war began, a herd of cows escaped the abattoir to find their way -wall to wall- along Washington St. I tore up the hill to get Mrs Fanstone from Infants (green door). Sister Audrey in the Aquarium Ball Room, as Brighton beach was cleared, got us in procession repeating Crucified by Pontius Pilate. I’m a taoist now but how could I forget Washington St, gasmasks, the Bergins and Morrison shelters.

    By Raymond Thatcher (22/04/2016)

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