Church in St Leonards to mark its closure with service

St Leonard�s Parish Church SUS-180727-100648001
St Leonard�s Parish Church SUS-180727-100648001

A service is to be held to mark the closure of an iconic church building.

Procedures have been completed for St Leonard’s Parish Church on Marina to be closed for worship.

The service will be next Saturday (August 4) at 3pm.

Because the building cannot be used the service will be at St Ethelburga’s in St Saviour’s Road.

The two parishes were united in 2009 and all services and activities are now taking place there.

Churchwarden Clare Lyttle, who is organising the event, said it will be ‘a farewell, a thanksgiving for the past and prayer for the future’.

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.

But the problems with the building persist and the risk of further landslips continues, so worship could no longer continue to take place in the church.

Discussions with interested parties about the future of the building are still ongoing.