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. Indeed, we can accommodate a surprising range of events, but it should be noted that the acoustic, with our lofty roof and a three-second reverb, is particularly fine for music, especially sung voice and unamplified instrumentation.
We are permitted to have up to 400 people in the church for a public entertainment, including performers and crew. There is fixed seating for 300 in the central pews, and an additional 75 stackable seats are available for setting out in rows behind the pews.
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 about 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 church's acoustic is a challenging one for spoken voice and we would always advise that you bring in your own PA and individual microphones for any spoken voice requirements that are more sophisticated than introductions and basic announcements. Similarly, while our lighting is suitable for choral performances and meetings, clients are advised to bring in their own lighting for more spectacular effects.
There is a grand piano and a fine Bevington pipe organ which, with the Director of Music's prior approval, we are happy to let musicians play.
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.
There is a stair lift to enable step-free access to the body of the church.
Please note that at the moment we do not have WiFi access or a landline to the church and 3G reception is patchy. We hope to have a WiFi connection by late summer 2014.
Our prices vary depending on whether the event is a commercial or charitable one. Prices may be higher in the winter time because of heating costs. In general, the cost for an afternoon rehearsal-cum-evening-performance session runs from £200 to £500.
The church cannot be booked on a Sunday before noon; on a Monday before 11 am and on a Wednesday between noon and 1.30 pm. Otherwise we are flexible with our timings for hire.
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, you will need to apply for a 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 twelve 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.
If you have any queries at all, please email our Venue Manager, Katherine Prior, or call her on 07796 440670.
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St Mary's during the Great Escape new music festival, May 2014.