Should be upgraded to cathedral

St Peter's Church, Brighton
Image from the 1994 'My Brighton' museum exhibit

“St Peter’s Church is a beautiful church both inside and out. I believe that it was built in the late 1800s. It’s a shame really that we haven’t got city status so that the church could be upgraded to cathedral status.

We had a terrible hurricane here in 1987 and lost 5 million trees in Sussex. One of these trees was removed to the grounds of St Peter’s Church and erected as a memorial to this dreadful hurricane. Unfortunately, when I went to take the picture of the church the sculpture had been removed.”

Comments about this page

  • St Peter’s was a very grand building, built very cheaply at a time when the great and good were building churches en masse in Brighton. It is suffering enourmous decay now, having being built so cheaply. The best thing really for the parish of St Peter’s would be to demolish it and build something much more practical. I fully understand people’s horror at this suggestion. However, it is a building and a church must be a living community. Most of the shock would come from those who don’t actually go to church, except once a year of course, and from those who for some reason feel that they want a civic place of worship, or those indignant Christians who believe that they are automatically Christians because they are English! The truth is that St Peter’s is in a parish where very few people now live and with a congregation who cannot support its upkeep. And in reply to those who still constantly cry Wouldn’t it be nice if it was a cathedral now that we are a city? This shows how little they understand Christianity/church life. A cathedral is the seat of the bishop in his diocese. We are in the diocese of Chichester and so come under Chichester cathedral. Period.

    By Tobias (16/03/2003)
  • St. Peter’s Church stands on the River Wellsbourne, a small river that comes to surface west of the Palace Pier at low tide. It was the first master piece of the architect Charles Barry. He went on to build the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London. Many of its very tall English elms were lost in the 1987 hurricane.

    By Peter Bourne (10/09/2003)
  • I totally disagree with the idea that St Peter’s should be demolished, it is one of the finest early Gothic Revival churches in the country. Too many historic and architecturally important buildings have been lost over the years in Brighton & Hove (i.e. St Margart’s Church in Cannon Place, the Central National School in Church St, and many more). What they have been replaced with are, in comparison, buildings which are bland, featureless and of cheap construction (eg the Odeon cinema, Kings Way, Sussex Heights).The important thing is to look after our historic buildings which means we must restore or convert them to other uses instead of erasing our past.

    By J Waters (04/03/2004)
  • I think St Peter’s Church is a beautiful building, perhaps I am biased because I am geting married there in October. However, I go to church every Sunday and, yes, not many people go but I am horrified to read the comments that it should be demolished. That attitude is disgraceful and thankfully that person has no say in what should be demolished in Brighton! Otherwise Brighton would have no culture whatsoever. Keep St Peters, that’s what I say!

    By Sara Hodgkins (18/08/2004)
  • I have very fond memories of this lovely church. I was, with my older brother Mick, a member of the choir around 1949-51 and I loved weddings there as we used to get 2/6d for every one. But I used to be scared stiff if I was the first one to arrive as it was very eerie and silent.

    By Patrick Collins (08/01/2005)
  • I am neither a Christian nor a church-goer, I don’t go to church even once a year. However, I am a lifelong Brighton resident and would consider it a great shame if one of our beautiful buildings was demolished merely because it’s not ‘modern’ enough. I was interested to read Tobias’ comment as to why St Peter’s cannot become a cathedral. I was under the impression that the church was intended to be a cathedral when it was being built, but for some reason this plan changed.

    By Suzi Middle (17/01/2005)
  • St.Peter’s has an organ built by Father Henry Willis, the greatest of the Victorian organ builders. It is almost identical to the ones Willis built for Truro Cathedral and for the old Coventry Cathedral building, bombed in World War II. I hope those who would see the church demolished realise that the organ is an irreplaceable treasure.

    By David Dibbs (17/01/2005)
  • l have just started doing my family history (the Mcfee family). Their birth place is listed as Brighton St Peter. Is this the same church? The registration district is Brighthelmston, where is that? The page is so interesting.

    By Irene Buckley (10/05/2005)
  • It is really interesting to read the comments that people make regarding St Peter’s Church. My personal opinion is that it would be a great loss to Brighton if St Peter’s was demolished. I would like to know if other options have been explored regarding the use of St Peter’s, for instance has anyone thought of the possibility of staging concerts in the church? Also, could not a cafeteria be constructed in the church as other churches have done to subsidise their finances. It does sound rather harsh and extreme, but difficult times often need extreme answers.

    By Chris Rolph (13/05/2005)
  • Message for Irene Buckley: St. Peter’s was a parish name as well as the church although your family would have lived near the church and may well have been baptised there. You probably have a certificate or census with St. Peter’s written on it. Brighthelmstone is the old name for Brighton.

    By Jacqueline Pollard (17/06/2005)
  • To Jacqueline Pollard – the 1901 census shows Brighton St Peter as the birth place. They lived at Queens Gardens and married at St Peter’s Church in 1854.

    By Irene Buckley (25/06/2005)
  • Irene Buckley – please email me – I tried to contact you but your email address is incorrect. We have some information for you.

    By Jennifer (27/06/2005)
  • I am doing my family tree research (Leaney) and I found out that my grandfather Harold Leslie Leaney’s birth certificate was in the sub-district of St Peter where he was born at Islingwood Place, Brighton in 1890. Would it be at this St Peter’s Church? I wonder if there is any record of his birth at this church and any descentants of his family there too?

    By Angela Treanor (12/11/2005)
  • Message for Angela Treanor: In the 1891 census Harold L Leaney was the youngest of 8 children living with their parents George & Mary Ann Leaney at 45 Islingword Place. Islingword Place was near Queens Park Road in Park Ward and there were many other churches nearer to the family home than St. Peter’s. The nearest Anglican church would probably be St. Luke’s. In the 1901 census the family are living at 33 Brading Road which is off Elm Grove in Brighton. Baptism records for most churches can be seen at East Sussex Record Office and in some cases at the History Centre, Brighton.

    By Jacqueline Pollard (18/11/2005)
  • Information required on the Galliers family from this area in the 1850s. Can someone comment on the names of the streets that I have from the Census pages – Warwick, St Jersey Street, Egremonts Place? Also Cobden Road (undertakers) and the High Street – another undertakers. Are these names correct and is there any history of an undertakers with the Galliers name? Many thanks for any help.

    By Jillian Darken (24/08/2006)
  • Message for Jacqueline Pollard and Angela Treanor: my grandparents, Thomas and Rose Leaney, lived in Stanley Street, Queens Park, from around 1908 and were married in St Peter’s in 1900. Do not want to ‘publish’ my email address but can be contacted on Skype under Ashley Leaney.

    By Ashley Leaney (23/01/2007)
  • St Peter’s Church MUST be kept open. As a Brightonian I cannot imagine the city without it. My daughter sang there at Christmas with her Dorothy Stringer choir. Visitors coming to the city see it as the first ‘major’ building on arrival.
    Please, please do all that is possible to keep it.

    By Angela Davie (21/02/2007)
  • Hi- I’m researching my Leaney family tree in Sussex and was wondering if there was any connection. So far I have a Mary Leaney and son Frederick born in Sullington/ Lullington. is there any connection? thanks

    By Catherine Harvey (21/10/2008)
  • I am researching my family tree and find that my great-grandmother, Kate Harriet Anscombe, lived at No.28, Iron Church, District St. Peter, Brighton in 1891 and was employed as an assistant in a lace shop. Can anyone tell me where Iron Church was?

    By Wendy Green (16/02/2009)
  • Message for Ashley Leaney: I knew your grandmother, she used to attend Park Hill Church (this would be in the 1950s and maybe early 60s) and my father was the church secretary. She was a lovely old lady. I’m afraid I don’t remember your grandfather.

    By Phil Back (14/01/2011)
  • Message for Phil Back: Hello Phil, That’s really interesting. Sorry I’ve not replied before but I have only just seen your comment. I would love to hear from you. Please contact me at ashley_leaney at

    By Ashley Leaney (17/12/2011)

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