St Paul's Church built 1846/8

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

d) ST PAUL’S CHURCH: Designed by Richard Cromwell Carpenter, St Paul’s Church was constructed in 1846-8 by George Cheeseman on the site of an 1830 Bethel chapel. It was built at a cost of £14,000 for Revd Henry Wagner, the Vicar of Brighton, and two years after it opened on 18 October 1848 Wagner’s son Arthur was installed as perpetual curate. The church was consecrated on 23 October 1849. Now a listed building, the church’s exterior is in a fourteenth-century Gothic style, and is faced with knapped flint and stone dressings. The tower was originally intended to have a tall spire, but the octagonal lantern was added in 1874-5 by Carpenter’s son, Richard Herbert Carpenter, and is supported by four pinnacles and crowned by a short timber and lead spire; the lantern and spire were extensively restored in 1947, principally at the expense of the Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. Additions to the highly decorated interior were made in 1861 by George Bodley. The stained glass was created by William Pugin and Charles Kempe, and the triptych was decorated by Sir Edward Burne-Jones but it is presently on display in Brighton Museum.* St Paul’s has 1,200 sittings, 460 of which were rented until 1873, the same year in which the parish was formed. The entrance to the church is via a long corridor along the southern side so that, unlike most Brighton churches, it can be entered from the west, the liturgically correct end.
St Paul ‘s was opened with a very ornate and ritualist ceremony, and was the first Brighton church to be so highly decorated. It was said to be the first ‘Tractarian’ church south of the River Thames, and in the mid nineteenth century was at the centre of the ritualist movement led by Arthur Wagner (q.v.), a movement which led to much anger within the town. Wagner also had a reading-room built to the west of the church, but it was not used by the fishing community for whom it was intended and was converted into a vestry. {1,44,45,62,64a,66,83}
A new church hall, the Wagner Hall, was erected in Regency Road in conjunction with the Churchill Square development on the site of the 1834 Baptist Tabernacle. {62,123}
*The triptych was subsequently sold to a private individual.

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

Comments about this page

  • My Nan & Grandad were married in St Pauls on December 11 1905. Their names were Louise Markwick who married John T Groves. At the time of marrage my Nan was living at 22 Russell Street, and my Grandad was living at 6 Zion Gardens. Their witnesses were George Henry Jasper, Charles Edward Cowley and Ellen Louie. I would be very grateful on any info on this marriage.

    By Richard F Groves (24/10/2009)

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