I cannot let the letter from N Bacon on November 1 go unchallenged concerning St Clement’s church in Hastings Old Town.
I cannot comment on the condition of the church when your correspondent last entered the church but I have been a member of the congregation there since 2000 and have to say that by 2011 when the church was last used it had become a very dark, cold, uninviting and uncomfortable place to be. The building smelt of damp and in winter even with the heating on you could see your breath coming out of your mouth whenever you talked or sung. Many of the beams had been attacked by death-watch beetle and the paintwork was peeling off everywhere and the lighting was something out of the Victorian era. There were no toilets or running water to make tea or coffee.
With the generous legacy of the late Barbara Jordan, St Clements has been transformed into a building worthy of the 21st century yet still retains many of its much loved older features such as stained glass windows and two magnificent brass chandeliers. Today, the church is bright, well-lit and above all warm from under-floor heating. If N Bacon had taken the trouble to inspect the area behind the glass doors he/she would have found that it is an area that can be turned into three meeting rooms – either for church or secular use.
Moreover, the important chancel area remains unaltered. In addition it has two toilets including one for disabled use and a kitchen area where tea/coffee can be made and small refreshments made and served. Above it is set a gallery which provides extra seating for services or concerts which I note that N. Bacon did at least enjoy. The important chancel area remains unaltered. The main Nnve area still retains pews whilst the side aisles have more modern/comfortable chairs.
The floor is of high quality Italian marble and blends in beautifully with the newly decorated walls and ceiling and brilliant new lighting. In fact the restoration has been rightly recognised by Sussex Heritage which has signalled its approval by an official award.
St Clements has a visitors book that since Easter 2013 has been filled with pages containing the most marvellous comments from visitors both near and far that praises the sensitive restoration that combines the best of the old with the new.
Today, the church is a place not only of worship but a building open for the community to use for meetings and concerts. It is once again the precious jewel to be used and enjoyed by all, as it has been since the 14th century.