Disused St Leonards church up for sale

A disused church building in St Leonards is up for sale.

St Leonard’s Parish Church, in Marina, is on the market by Dyer & Hobbis commercial property agents for offers in the region of £500,000.

Dyer & Hobbis said in its brochure outlining the building: “The property comprises a substantial church building constructed c1960 with chancel and sanctuary which form the main space, large entrance vestibule with kitchen, servery and other small rooms off, WCs and mezzanine gallery.

“To the side of the building is a vestry and number of associated rooms. The bell tower with cruciform window is notable. Also included is land between Undercliff and West Hill Road, as well as area occupied by the Burton family tomb.

“The property is Grade II* Listed and has a current consent for F1 use.”

F1 use in planning means a building has planning consent to be used as a school, museum, library, hall, place of worship, church hall, law court, or non-residential education and training centre.

St Leonard’s Parish Church closed for worship in 2018.

The original St Leonard’s Parish Church, part of Burton’s St Leonards, was destroyed by a V1 flying bomb in 1944. The main part of the present building was opened in 1955 but the tower was a later addition.

The rebuilt church was designed by the famous architect Adrian Gilbert Scott and the stained glass windows were the work of Patrick Reyntiens.

The unique features were inspired by Canon Cuthbert Griffiths, rector from 1929 to 1961.

Following a dream, he went to Israel and had the prow of a Galilean fishing boat constructed to form the pulpit.

The ship which brought it here was on its last voyage and the company donated the ship’s binnacle to become the lectern.

From its opening until the mid-1990s the rebuilt church was seen as the flagship Anglican church of the borough, with the largest attendances.

In 1987 a serious landslip occurred to the west of the church. Then in 1994 a severe mudslide on the west side reached as high as the vestry windows.

Serious problems were also developing inside the building. The stonework was crumbling because of its very close proximity to the sea.

The first threat of closure came in 1994 and proceedings were started to share the Methodist church in Norman Road (now a block of flats). But the arrival of a new Bishop of Lewes led to a reprieve.

Funds were raised and grants obtained to carry out the most pressing repair work and church members rallied round to give the church a new lease of life.

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