Fresh calls to save St Leonards chapel

Former convent of Holy Child Jesus
Former convent of Holy Child Jesus

Two societies have put their weight behind calls to save a deserted chapel in St Leonards.

The Victorian Society and the Pugin Society want Hastings Borough Council to take action to prevent further damage to St Michael’s chapel in the former convent of the Holy Child Jesus.

Damage to St Michael's Chapel in the old convent in 2007

Damage to St Michael's Chapel in the old convent in 2007

The society found leaks in the roof were causing damage and believes the Magdalen Road chapel would have deteriorated even further by now.

Pugin Society chairman Nick Dermott said: “Although the chapel sits within a twelve acre site set just back from the central St Leonards seafront, it is surrounded by a high wall and is not readily visible from the road.

“As a result it has for too long been a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for this nationally important building. Local authorities have considerable powers to persuade the owners of listed buildings to keep them in good repair.

“Hastings council should commission an up to date survey of the chapel’s condition as soon as possible.”

The grade II* listed chapel was designed by Edward Pugin and includes work by his brothers Peter-Paul and Cuthbert.

English Heritage described the chapel – which was consecrated in 1868 – as ‘an intact High Victorian Gothic interior of outstanding quality’.

According to the societies, Historic England are currently considering adding the chapel to its Heritage at Risk Register.

In 2010, a planning application was made to demolish the 20th century buildings on the site, convert the 19th century buildings and construct new houses and flats which would facilitate the restoration of the chapel for public use.

The application stalled after disagreement over the council’s amendments to the scheme and remains undetermined.

The societies are calling upon the council to commission an up to date survey of the chapel as a first step in securing its future.

“We don’t own this property, but are obviously happy to work with the current or future property owners to ensure that this Grade 2* listed building is properly conserved,” a council spokesman said.

Last month, resident Richard Heritage claimed the council is ignoring the chapel and wanted it to be restored.

At the time, council leader Peter Chowney said a group were looking into taking it over and refurbishing it but if that did not come to fruition then action would be taken to force the current owners to restore it.

The council has been contacted for comment.

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