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Can you identify this church?

I have looked high and low on the Internet for a similar church as the one in this photo taken 40 odd years ago. No luck so far.

I remember it was within bus distance of central Brighton, but little else comes to mind. I have found similar types of architecture, but the steeple is never precisely the same. The clock on the front has a figure above it, which presumably comes out like a cuckoo clock on the striking of the hour or half hour.

I am therefore in the hands of the Brighton and Hove army of investigators! So what do you think?

Mystery church
Photo by Stefan Bremner-Morris

Comments about this page

  • Could it be looking out from the entrance to Lewes Castle? I only went there once when I cycled there from Brighton at 8yrs, some 47 years ago.

    By Jeremiah (13/06/2009)
  • St John under the Castle, Lewes maybe?

    By Jeremy (14/06/2009)
  • I’m not so sure it’s Lewes. If the church clock is right and it’s 4.10pm, the shadows cast by the sun indicate the view is roughly towards south west. If this view was from the castle towards Lewes High Street then the land in the distance should be dropping down towards Cliffe High street, not rising sharply as in the photo.

    By Alan Hobden (15/06/2009)
  • Good technical stuff, Alan! No, I have never been to Lewes as far as I can recall, and I took the photo…

    By Stefan Bremner-Morris (17/06/2009)
  • The heavy mediaeval arch reminds me of Battle Abbey or Pevensey Castle though I do not recollect the view.

    By Peter Barnard (20/06/2009)
  • Sorry Stefan but I’m afraid I’m completely stumped by this one. I’m intrigued to know if this view still exists. I seem to remember Southdown buses going from Brighton’s Pool Valley terminus to places such as Crowborough and Tunbridge Wells (Kent), so the area covered was quite extensive. I think that Maidstone & District buses came to and from Brighton as wellCan you give us any more clues?

    By Alan Hobden (24/06/2009)
  • Sorry Alan, but I am blank on this too! It was in the Brighton ‘area’ but I have never found it again on the Internet. My aunt, who lived locally, was with us and I took another picture outside an arched entrance to a stone-walled garden, presumably the churchyard, with a gnarled old tree in front of it. There are no other references to work from. I sent a copy piccy to an old friend who knows the area well from walking, but he was bemused as well! We shall just have to hope somebody attends the church and can put us out of our misery! Would Steyning be a ‘goer’? Thanks.

    By Stefan Bremner (07/07/2009)
  • It doesn’t look like Steyning to me Stefan. Have you tried looking through the old photos of East and West Sussex on the Francis Frith website? They cover most of the towns and villages. By the way, in my message of 15/6/09 I should have written ‘Southover High Street’ and not ‘Cliffe High Street’. I went to the County Record Office at Lewes this morning and realised my mistake! I did have a look round, but none of the views from the castle match your photo.

    By Alan Hobden (11/07/2009)
  • Thanks Alan. I have looked at Frith, and many others over the months, but to no avail. It is definitely not Steyning from the photos. I tried Ditchling without seeing anything similar. Lewes is out of my sphere. It is a mystery, as it could not have been that far from Brighton central. Help!

    By Stefan Bremner-Morris (15/07/2009)
  • The roofs of the buildings, shutters (?), lack of high chimney stacks and trees all look European to me. In the mid nineties I studied all kinds of church architecture across Sussex and if it is in Sussex I must have missed it, as I’m sure I’d catalogued them all!

    By Bradlet Taplin (25/08/2009)
  • There is also what appears to be a white telegraph pole on the far side of the road. Does this give any clue to the whereabouts of this church? Alan.

    By Alan Hobden (29/08/2009)
  • I can assure you that the church wasn’t in any ‘European Country’ (unless you include the UK in that organisation!). I think it is a flag pole, Alan. Definitely in Sussex, folks! Good luck.

    By Stefan Bremner-Morris (02/09/2009)
  • I think it would be a strange flag pole to be mounted at the edge of a pavement Stefan. There is no flag evident, but if you enlarge the photo you can make out at least five cables running from the right side of it. They stand out particularly prominently against the side wall of the church. Did you ever take a day trip to France?

    By Alan Hobden (03/09/2009)
  • No, Alan. I can assure you it is Sussex-I haven’t travelled ‘abroad’ since 1959, thank goodness. I’m afraid my eyes aren’t up to distant cables on a computer screen, but I take your word for it. Would the ecclesiastical authorities in Sussex be able to help, do you think?

    By Stefan Bremner-Morris (12/09/2009)
  • You could try forwarding it via the following website:   They specialise in identifying past and present churches.

    By Alan Hobden (14/09/2009)
  • Thanks Alan – it has been put it on their new website. Fingers crossed!

    By Stefan Bremner-Morris (28/09/2009)
  • One hell of a bus trip, after four years I’ve located this as Launceston Town Hall in Cornwall. Here it is on Street View. If you turn around you can see the archway is further back than appears,0,16707254566242247759&ei=bteAUvWSHOme0QXkoIDgDQ&ved=0CIoBEPwSMAo

    By Bradley Taplin (11/11/2013)
  • I think you deserve a pat on the back for tenacity, Bradley. Well done you!

    By Janet Beal (11/11/2013)
  • I think you’re living in the realms of fantasy, Bradley! I have never been to Launceston in any event. Still, if anybody can recognize the church I am still interested! 

    By Stefan Bremner-Morris (14/11/2013)
  • Its definitely Launceston Town Hall. Definitely. Here’s a link to a photo of the building in the ’50s; all of the features are there – the clock,  the telegraph pole, the figures in the alcove above the clock (the town’s website describes these as quarterjacks, striking the hour and quarter hours). Also here is a picture of the arch through which the photo was taken – the shape of the wooden gate is unmistakable. Great bit of detective work, Bradley. 

    By Helen (14/11/2013)
  • Sorry folks, but I can recall TAKING the photo–and it sure wasn’t in Launceston! I have never been to that area of Cornwall. It may well be a similar design to my church–that isn’t unheard of in ecclesiastical architecture, but that’s as far as it goes on this occasion. Keep up the good work, though.

    By Stefan Bremner-Morris (15/11/2013)
  • You are absolutely right Bradley. Well done. How on earth did you find it? If only the noticeboard, which was in Stefan’s original photo, (to the left of the bottom window on the main tower) had said “Launceston Town Hall & Guildhall” on it back then, as it does now, we would not have had such a problem!! The archway is one of the old gateways to Launceston; Streetview shows the scene perfectly. Please take a look, Stefan. Launceston Town Hall in Cornwall it most certainly is!

    By Alan Hobden (15/11/2013)
  • Sadly, I regret to say that you are misguided, Alan. Yes it is a similar structure on Google, but that is not the one I took a picture of. I repeat, I have never been to Launceston, or anywhere near the town. You will just have to believe me, whatever the images dictate, and I can assure you that I took the shot in question on an old Agfa medium format folding camera. My parents were there, and an aunt and uncle, but sadly they have all passed on. Perhaps the architect pulled out some old drawings to save a bit of time and cash on one commission?! Obviously I can see why you think you’re in the right – so would I.

    By Stefan Bremner-Morris (15/11/2013)
  • Hold hard, folks! I have found an old diary belonging to my mother, and it indicates that we stayed for a very brief time at a place called Rilla Mill near Callington, Cornwall. I can only assume that this is the link to Launceston? If so, it would prove that you are correct. I have looked at stills on Byng, and they certainly tally. I don’t recall ever going to Launceston, but maybe someone else did, and the negative got into my Brighton collection. I obviously mistook my notions of taking the shot. Well done for tracking the building down, Bradley – I certainly wouldn’t have. We can all sleep easy once again!!

    By Stefan Bremner-Morris (15/11/2013)
  • I would love to see a present day shot, taken from the same position as the original, which is a great photo. Does anyone have a contact in Launceston?!

    By Alan Hobden (15/11/2013)
  • Stefan, your posts have made me laugh! Glad the mystery has been solved for you.

    By Janet Beal (15/11/2013)
  • There is no need to set off for Launceston again, Stefan! I have just found this modern day photo, also taken looking through the same arch at what is the North Gate of Launceston Castle. Regards, Alan.

    By Alan Hobden (16/11/2013)

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