The building and closure of a community church

St Wilfred's Church, Elm Grove
Photo by Rita Denman

“St Wilfrid’s Church was at the centre of life in Elm Grove for all of its 80 years. The Sunday School and youth activities connected with St Wilfrid’s were a very important part of the lives of many young people in the Elm Grove area.

I can remember the church being built and I was there at the closing service – a very emotional occasion.

I took this photo about 1993. It shows St Wilfrid’s after conversion, taken from the bottom of ‘my street’ (Lynton Street).”

Comments about this page

  • I don’t remember the church but one Elm Grove memory from the early 50s was of our family GP – Dr Kirby who, if I remember correctly, lived on a corner site about half way up on the left. It’s a long time ago now, as are all of my Brighton memories. Thank you for the opportunity to refresh some of them.

    By Arthur Loosley (10/03/2005)
  • I was born in 1922 so am now 82. I was in the choir in 1933 at the old corrugated iron St Wilfrid’s in Elm Grove when services were held in the Church Hall, and the church was being pulled down so that the new brick church could be built. We boy sopranos were paid one shilling a quarter to attend practice every Monday and two services on Sundays. We wore long black cassocks and white, lace-edged surplices for the services. I was in the choir for the inaugural services in the new brick church, which was very impressive. The church was High Anglican, with the priests swinging sensers filled with burning incense, which made everyone choke (except perhaps the smokers). My best friend in the choir was a boy called Bishop, who was keen on my sister Olive. Happy memories.

    By Robert Green (14/05/2005)
  • St Wilfrid’s was the only important Twentieth Century church in the whole of Sussex. So what happens to it? It gets converted into flats! Yet more tragic evidence of the remorseless destructon of Brighton’s heritage.

    By Simon Watney (27/03/2006)
  • Robert Green: If you were born in 1922 the same year as my Mum, and in the choir in 1933 then you must know my family.  They were, Olive, Harold and Albert Jones who lived as kids in Whippingham Road. Their father Albert was a churchwarden.  Was your friend in the choir Albert Bishop?

    By Hilary Wild (06/10/2006)
  • I was organist of St. Wilfrid’s at the age of 17 for about a year (from 1975 to mid-1976) when I became assistant-organist at St. Bartholomew’s before going to music college in Manchester. Mark Hill-Tout was Priest-in-Charge at the time, and I spent many happy evenings with the Mercers (staunch members of the congregation who lived in Hartington Rd) enjoying Bob’s home brew!

    By Lyndon Hills (08/06/2007)
  • Does anybody remember the wonderful Father Crampton, Vicar of the parish in the 50s when I as a child used to attend the church? I belonged to the brownie pack, Brown Owl was the lovely Mary Mitchell who died a few years ago. Father Crampton saw my friend and I though our confirmation. He was also there when, at the age of 11 years, I had a ruptured appendix and almost died. He was at my bedside for almost 36 hours. He too has long since gone (of cancer).

    By Chris Troak (nee Morane-known as Tina) (19/01/2008)
  • My late father was baptised at St Wilfred’s church. He was brought up in Sandown Road, Elm Grove. Does anyone remember the Tamlyns?

    By Audrey Paul (08/06/2008)
  • Hi Audrey, Mrs Tamlyn of Whippingham Road was my mother`s sister.

    By Julie (09/10/2009)
  • My father Charles Parsons was a sidesman at the church and we attended there. I was in the choir for a short time and was confirmed from there. I belonged to St Wilfred’s players and remember the nativity plays the church put on at, both at the hall in Whippingham Road. I was also a member of the 59th Brighton Brownies who met at the hall.

    By Coral Luke (née Parsons) (28/05/2010)
  • I remember this church well. I was in choir and had a great time. For weddings we got 2 shillings. The choir sat at the top of the church so we could look down on everyone. Wednesday was choir practice, we all used to take torches and play in the dark. I was amazed to see it was now flats when I went back to Brighton in 2010.

    By Louis Simkiss (14/01/2011)
  • A friend of mine was there in the mid/late sixties, and I was invited to attend his first Mass after his priestly ordination. Unfortunately I was taken ill and could not attend. I never did get to see the interior of the church, or the Feibusch. Years later he returned to St. Martins, a church I got to know well – but to my regret, I never saw St. Wilfreds.

    By John Linge (01/02/2020)
  • I lived in Brading Road in the 1960’s and went to Fairlight School. I remember the church well as I went to Sunday School there, and later as a Brownie, (where we met at the hall in Whippingham Road) we went to church parade there. I remember the excessive use of incense and all the pennant bearing and it quite frightened me at the time.

    By Sharon (was Walker) (15/02/2023)

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