Hiring the church
St Mary’s Church affords a wonderful setting for concerts, dramatic performances, public meetings, dance classes, theatre workshops, craft fairs, and private parties. The acoustic, with our lofty roof and a three-second reverb, is particularly fine for unamplified music and sung voice.
Our maximum seated capacity is about 325. We can permit up to 400 people (including performers and crew) to be in the church for a public entertainment.
There is a carpeted performance platform in front of the pews and formal choir stalls in the chancel. Behind the pews is an open space with parquet floor, suitable for dancing or sit-down dining for up to 60 people.
You can download a floor plan here and also a diagram, with dimensions, of the performance platform.
We have an announcement-quality PA system with one roving microphone and several fixed ones. The acoustic is challenging for spoken voice and we would advise that you bring in your own PA and individual microphones for any spoken voice requirements that are more sophisticated than introductions and announcements. Similarly, while our lighting is adequate for choral performances and meetings, clients are advised to bring in their own lighting for more spectacular effects.
There is a reconditioned 1904 C. Bechstein grand piano and a fine Bevington pipe organ which, with the Director of Music's prior approval, we are happy to let musicians play. There is also an upright piano in the church for community use and singing tuition.
Tea and coffee-making facilities are available in the Tower Room adjoining the main body of the church. There is a catering-quality kitchen available for separate hire in the church hall next door.
The choir vestry is available as a green room, changing facility or small rehearsal space. It includes a digital piano.
Toilets, including an accessible toilet and baby change area, are available in the church hall next door. Staffed access to the toilets during a ticketed event will be provided by the church.
A stair lift enables step-free access to the body of the church.
There is a WiFi connection which is suitable for live streaming.
Our prices vary depending on whether the event is a commercial or charitable one. In general, the cost for an afternoon rehearsal-cum-evening-performance session runs from £250 to £750. There is a premium for a Saturday evening booking and a surcharge for running your own bar.
Availability and hours
The church is never available on a Sunday morning or a Wednesday before 2pm. Otherwise we are flexible with our timings for hire. There is a premium for a Saturday evening hire.
There is a noise curfew of 10.30pm. An anti-social-hours fee of £50 per hour is applied for any load-outs after midnight.
You can check availability on the church calendar here. But please note that some bookings may be pending, so an empty slot in the calendar is not a guarantee of availability. Always check with the Venue Manager before committing yourself to a date.
We permit alcohol to be served in the church and we can run a bar for you. If you wish to run your own bar, we will charge a higher hire fee, and you will need to apply for your own Temporary Event Notice (TEN) from Brighton and Hove City Council. You must have ID checks in place to ensure that you do not serve alcohol to under-18-year-olds, and you must prevent alcohol from being taken outside the church. You will need a TEN even if you plan to give alcohol away in return for a 'suggested donation' or to include a glass of wine in the price of a ticket. Licensing regulations count both of these forms of alcohol provision as sales.
The church can have fifteen TENs in a calendar year. If you are planning a Christmas show and know that you will want to run a bar, please reserve your slot early before our allocation runs out.
You can download a Temporary Event Notice application here. Guidance for completing the form is available here.
You can download a booking form for hiring the church here. Please also download and read our Risk Assessment for public entertainments. It is a condition of making a booking that you have read and accepted the safety provisions detailed in this document.
For all enquiries, please email us or call Philip Davis on 07434 121659.
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St Mary's during the Great Escape new music festival, May 2014.