St. Leonards Church

From Historical Hastings

This church was originally designed by Decimus Burton and, in fact, the only church he designed. Construction was by Peter Jenkins, with the building being finished in 1834. The construction required a large section to be cut out of the cliff to the rear, and the building was subject to continual rock-falls from the exposed face. Unfortunately, the Gothic Chapel was hit by a V1 flying bomb during 1944 and completely demolished.

Post war rebuilding[edit]

With the foundation stone being laid by the Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone on the 7th of October 1953[1], the rebuilding of the church commenced to a design by Giles and Adrian Gilbert Scott, a large part of the cost being defrayed with a bequest of £40,000 from the late Mr. William Edwin Halladay[2], with the tower being built some years later due to lack of funds. The stone used was taken from a disused quarry on the Crowhurst Park Estate in 1947 with twelve German prisoners of war who were housed at The Grove being utilised to assist[3] in the work, they having volunteered their assistance. The church was finally complete by the addition of the tower in 1961.

The church closed after fears of the cliff safety behind in 2018.

Ministers[edit]

1837 : Rev. Sydney Henry Widdrington[4]
1839 : Rev. J. C. Leslie[5]
1849-1852 : Rev. T. P. Sproule[6]
1853-1856 : Rev. John Alton Hatchard[7]
1947 : Canon Griffiths

2020 Plans[edit]

A bid has been put in by the Hastings Urban Design Group to convert the church, together with the area adjacent in Undercliff that has stood derelict other than some concrete retaining structures into an outpost of the Science Museum in London. The diocese of Chichester is reportedly amenable to the plan[8].


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