Artistic altar-ations planned for church

AN AMBITIOUS project to transform a derelict church in St Leonards into a contemporary arts venue is underway.

The Grade II listed St Leonards Congregational Church at the corner of Pevensey Road and London Road, has seen better days, but the building’s new owners hope to give it a new lease of life.

Ned Markwell and Dee-Dee Crosher

Ned Markwell and Dee-Dee Crosher

Property developer Ellen Gordon, her daughter Dee-Dee Crosher, 23, and Dee-Dee’s partner Ned Markwell, 22, from south London, plan to create a venue that St Leonards can be proud of.

Dee-Dee, who works as a talent agent, said: “St Leos will be a variety venue, and we are going to try to make it as community friendly as possible.

“This needs to be an asset for the community, and the more ways that we can get people involved the better.”

As well as larger gigs and theatre productions (it could potentially be a 500-capacity venue), open mic nights and poetry slams, are just some of the ideas so far.

A number of local jobs will also be created.

The plan is for the new venue to be open at the beginning of next year.

The £500,000 project is just five months in, and the building is shrouded in scaffolding, however the potential is obvious.

The church, which was built in 1863 and closed in 2008 after falling out of use, is packed with original features, including stained glass windows, pulpit, pews, and an organ, which are to be painstakingly restored.

The area below the church will be converted into accommodation for the family.

Despite the challenge they face, the team remains committed and upbeat, and Dee-Dee said: “We have got to finish - none of us has even contemplated giving up.”

Ned, a writer and poet, who will take on the role of events manager said: “What we really want is for the people of St Leonards to get in contact with us and tell us what they want from the venue.

“We need as much support as possible.”

Contact the team via Twitter @st_leos or by writing to them at the church.