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The Countess of Huntingdon's Church

The original chapel of the Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion, was founded in Brighton in 1761, today the sect has 23 congregations in the UK. The Countess was born Selina Shirley in 1707, and married the 9th Earl of Huntingdon in 1728. Having joined the Methodist Society in 1739, Lady Huntingdon went on to form the Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion which was basically a Calvinistic movement within the Methodist church. She played a prominent part in the religious revival of the 18th century.

Countess of Huntingdon: Royal Pavilion and Museums Brighton and Hove.

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The 1840’s neoclassical facade with Ionian columns

The rebuilt church photographed c1871

The popularity of the ‘new faith’

Countess Huntingdon came to Brighton in 1755; she bought a house in North Street and built a private chapel in its grounds. The Countess hoped that the sea air would be beneficial to the health of her ailing son; sadly both her sons died of smallpox. Returning in 1760, she invited the Rev George Whitfield, a very famous Methodist preacher to speak in Brighton. As the popularity of the ‘new faith’ grew, the Countess opened her small chapel to the public. The congregation continued to grow and the chapel was enlarged many times over the years. Eventually in 1822 the Countess’s former residence was converted into a long gallery and a Doric entrance was made in North Street.

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Interior of the church just before demolition in 1972

Interior of the church just before demolition in 1972

Church entirely rebuilt in 1871

In 1870-1 the church was entirely rebuilt by John Wimble in Early English style in flint and grey stone. There was a graceful north-eastern spire, and a triple-arched entrance supported by granite pillars with elaborate capitals, while the interior had galleries on all sides, excellent stained glass windows, a marble pulpit, and room for about 900 worshippers. The new church opened on 20 March 1871 and was initially well-attended, but eventually congregations dwindled and it proved impossible to keep the building in good repair. The church closed in September 1966 and was demolished in February 1972, although the spire had been taken down in November 1969.

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The Countess of Huntingdon’s Church photographed from New Road in 1966

The view into North Street from New Road in 2012

Comments about this page

  • My grandfather Ernest Henry Mead lived nearby in Bond St, he was a lay reader at this church before WWII. The preacher then was the Rev Pitt Bannerjee an Indian who went on to be the preacher at a small church out in Peacehaven. The replacement for the church pictured was demolished in 1966/67 and has been replaced by the very bland Huntingdon House

    By Geoffrey Mead (13/08/2011)
  • The Countess Of Huntingdon’s Connexion must have been a wider faction than I previously thought. We have a Countess Of Huntingdon’s Chapel here in Bath, a fine Gothic castellated edifice in the Paragon dating ffrom 1765. Fortunately, unlike its namesake in Brighton, it’s survived and now houses The Building Of Bath Museum. For more info visit

    By Len Liechti (26/08/2012)
  • My GGGrandfather William Parnacott married Caroline Seymour (both born in Bath) in the Countess of Huntingdon’s Chapel in Bath in 1854. He then moved to Herstmonceux, East Sussex as an Independent Minister of the Congregational Church there (now Free Church). His daughter Laura married my GGrandfather Horace Light, a tailor from Brighton! There is also a Countess of Huntingdon’s Chapel in Worcester.

    By Geraldine Lewis (30/05/2013)
  • When The 3rd Brighton company of the Boys` Brigade were `bombed out` of Gloucester Place, Church they found a temporary home in the Countess of Huntingdon’s as the 19th Brighton before moving to Dorset Gardens to become the 6th Brighton BB. during the 1940s and early 50s.

    By Leslie Russell (04/12/2016)
  • The picture of Lady Huntingdon at the top of the page appears regularly on the ‘net attributed to Brighton’s Phoebe Hessel – wrongly, it seems. I wonder how the mistake originated. Anyone know? Geoffrey Mead?   

    By Janet Beal (05/12/2016)
  • We are fortunate that in Huntingdon (which suffered similar demolition of historic buildings in the 60-80’s too) that the chapel here built by Lady Huntingdon survived apart from the former bell tower. And while not as grand, it’s now home to a Wetherspoons, they have made a very sympathetic restoration, so we still get to enjoy it, though not at Lady Huntingdon intended!

    By Debbie Larrad (30/06/2019)
  • First United Methodist Church of Homestead, Florida acquired the center part of the rose window when the chapel was torn down. It was installed in our sanctuary in 1973 and has enhanced our worship space ever since.

    By Reverend Ivan G. Corbin (20/08/2020)
  • My wife’s GG Grandma Mary Jane Deegan 1818-1892 was baptised at Countess of Huntingtons Church in North Street , Sussex, England on 31 May 1818.
    She married Marion’s GG Grandad Thomas white, but not sure when. From M. Occleshaw, Australia.

    By Morrie Occleshaw (04/01/2021)
  • My ancestor Mary Washer was christened in North Street- Countess of Huntingdon’s Brighton in 1789. I’d wondered where we got our “non-conformist” ways, and now we know! A great pity the church was demolished, but it gave spiritual service to many hundreds in its lifetime.

    By Wendy Muller. (27/06/2021)
  • Debbie Larrad ‘s note that the chapel converted by Wetherspoons in Huntingdon was built by Lady Huntingdon who died in 1791 is not correct. The church was built in 1845 by Lady Bernard Sparrow of Brampton.

    By David Cozens (31/01/2022)
  • I remember the chapel well as it was beside a bus stop that I used regularly. It was unused and seemed neglected. I was rather upset when it was demolished to make way for a small extension to Hanningtons. Made me think about knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. Another striking landmark lost.

    By Nick Burdett (01/02/2022)
  • My Great Great grandfather Joseph Woods (1800-1872) was a minister in the Countess’ Connexion. He was baptised as an adult at Zion Chapel-Lady Huntingdons, Ashbourne, Derby, 23 September 1825, and called his 4th daughter Selina. In 1851 he was serving as a minister in Fordingbridge, Hampshire – where I was born 114 years later (my parents did not know about him when they moved there)

    By Penelope Swan (11/04/2022)

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