Downland church built of local flint rubble

St. Peter’s, Preston Park, is one of the oldest buildings in Brighton and Hove. It was built in about 1250, and is a simple Downland church, built of local flint rubble. Originally, it was of great importance to the area, as its parish was very large, extending far into what is now Hove, and northwards to Preston Barracks on Lewes Road.

Ancient wall paintings
The church is well known for its three ancient wall paintings, dating from the 13th century. Although these were badly damaged in the fire of 1906, the main elements can still be seen. The painting on the north wall shows the nativity scene, and those on either side of the chancel arch show the murder of Thomas Beckett in 1170, and St. Michael weighing souls.

Unusual altar
The altar is very unusual, as it was once the chest-tomb of Edward Elrington, who lived in Preston Manor, and died in 1515. The church had close links with the adjacent Preston Manor, and traditionally, the Lord of the Manor would have been responsible for the upkeep of the chancel. The walls are covered with Victorian stencilling, and there are many plaques and stained-glass windows, in memory of the families who once lived in the manor.

Many interesting items
In the bell tower wall is a grave-inscription to Elizabeth Shirley, daughter of Sir Richard Shirley, who lived in Preston Manor. She died on 23rd April, 1684. Other interesting items in the church include the carvings on the pew-ends, and memorial tablets to people who came to Brighton from other parts, when it was a very fashionable place to visit.The stained-glass windows in the nave all date from the 19th and early 20th centuries, and commemorate local residents and visitors.

You can read the entry for St Peter’s Church from The Encyclopaedia of Brighton, which is reproduced here with the kind permission of its author, Tim Carder.

No Comments

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this page!

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.