December 2018 e-newsletter out now!
Our monthly e-newsletter, which includes details of all our Christmas services, activities, concerts, etc., is out now. There's also some concrete news about our current phase of building repairs. (Spoiler alert: There's a dreadful pun in there somewhere...)
If you'd like to receive a copy of this regularly, please send your email address to email@example.com and we'll add you to the mailing list. We won't pester you with anything else - promise!
Click here to read the December 2018 edition.
Click here to catch up on the November 2018 and October 2018 editions.
A Time to Mourn & A Time to Dance
An afternoon of music and readings in remembrance of those who died in the Great War
Sunday, 18 November 2018, 3.30pm - FREE
30 August 2018 Press Release
St Mary’s Church awarded £232,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund
Download the Press Release here
St Mary’s Church is delighted to announce a grant of £232,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the cost of major building repairs to its entrance frontage overlooking St James’s Street in Brighton.
The Grade II*-listed parish church, which was built in 1878, stands one block from the sea and over the decades has suffered serious wind and salt erosion to its historic red brick and sandstone fabric. The grant provides major support for urgent repairs to the south elevation, which are projected to cost £360,000.
The repairs will completely renovate the entrance frontage of the church and provide new lighting and signage and the removal of pavement trip hazards at the doors. Work is expected to commence next month and to be completed by February 2019.
Fr Andrew Woodward, priest-in-charge at St Mary’s, said:
‘It’s our 140th birthday this year and we couldn’t have asked for a better present! We are thrilled to receive this grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and wish to thank the National Lottery players who make this vital support for historic buildings possible.
‘We’ve worked hard in recent years to put St Mary’s back at the heart of our community, and these repairs will greatly improve the appearance and safety of the church and, we hope, the whole feel of the neighbourhood.
‘It takes time, but we are striving to reduce the air of dereliction in our corner of Kemptown and grow its sense of community. This grant is a huge boost to that.’
The Friends of St Mary's present
CAMINO! The Way of St James
An illustrated talk by Pilgrim Martin Bartholomew
Saturday, 28 July 2018, 6 pm - FREE
Thank you to everyone who came along to hear Pilgrim Martin Bartholomew talk about his recent experience of walking the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. This was a lovely evening, generously hosted by the Friends of St Mary's, and we were delighted to see many new faces there. Watch this space for more Friends events, including an 'India in Brighton' talk and curry night on Friday, 21 September. Details coming soon!
NEW! Senegalese dance class from 10 July 2018
Weekly Senegalese dance classes - sabar to the beat of live djembe - are starting in our church hall on Tuesday, 10 July, at 7pm. £7 per session. Taught my master Lion Dancer Palaye Seck. For more information, please call 07935 114773.
Brighton before the Pavilion
Friends' Local History Night with Dr Geoffrey Mead
St Mary's Church Hall - Friday, 13 April 2018, 7 for 7.30pm
£12 - includes fish & chip supper and dessert!
Thank you to all who joined in for this great evening. Geoffrey Mead was on top form, as ever, and we couldn't have squeezed another person in to hear him. Thank you too to the Friends of St Mary's for organizing another top night - and for raising some £500 for the repair and restoration of St Mary's.
Easter 2018 - Services in Holy Week at St Mary's
John Stainer's 1887 oratorio: The Crucifixion
Come and Sing Performance
Wednesday, 28 March 2018, 7 pm
Rehearsal for singers 4.30pm; Performance 7pm - FREE
A Year of Tea & Company
Our last Tea & Company friendship cafe on Wednesday, 21 June 2017, was a lively and busy affair with a Midsummer picnic theme. Thank you to everyone who helped, especially our fab volunteers and super partners from Time To Talk Befriending and Brighton College, and to all those who came along and joined in the fun. Huge thanks too to PCSOs Megan and Jamie from Sussex Police who presented us with a cheque for £400 from the Police Property Fund to buy a new fridge-freezer. We are so grateful for this support.
It's been an amazing year. We never imagined Tea & Company would grow as rapidly as it has or bring us so many new guests and volunteers. For now, we're having a bit of a holiday and taking stock, but we do have two special summer editions of Tea & Company - on Wednesdays, 26 July and 6 September, at the usual time of 3.30 pm - before we start up again in earnest on Wednesday, 4 October. If you know of anyone - a friend, a neighbour, a parent - who would like to get out and smile a bit more, do get in touch with us. It's a friendly affair, totally free, and we can sometimes arrange transport.
Congratulations to our new priest!
Congratulations to Fr Herbert Bennett on his priesting at Holy Cross, Uckfield, on 10 June 2017. We had a beautiful celebration mass at St Mary's on the following day, attended by many of Fr Herbert's friends and family members. And we're very happy to report that Fr Herbert will serve with us as our curate at St Mary's for the next three years. Click on our Facebook link below to see some images from the weekend.
Happy Easter from everyone at St Mary's
We wish a blessed and happy Easter to all our friends, neighbours and worshippers! See below for an album of photos on our Facebook page showing Holy Week at St Mary's. Thank you to everyone who helped and visited us during this very special time.
Come and Sing - Stainer's Crucifixion
Wednesday, 12 April, 4.30 & 7 pm - FREE
A moving, inspiring musical prelude to Easter. Our annual come-and-sing performance of John Stainer's Crucifixion is on the Wednesday of Holy Week, 12th April. Professional soloists Andrew Mackenzie-Wicks (tenor) and Mark Beesley (bass) are joined by a 30-strong choir led by Gregory Moore, with Andrew Beaizley on the organ.
If you would like to sing with the choir, please join the rehearsal at the church at 4.30 pm or as soon thereafter as you can. And please bring a score with you if you have one. The performance is at 7 pm. It's free, with a retiring collection in aid of music at St Mary's, and is followed by complimentary wine and nibbles. Everyone is welcome.
East of St Mary's
Friends' Local History Night with Dr Geoffrey Mead
Congratulations to the Friends of St Mary’s for their very successful local history night in the church hall on 24th February with guest speaker Dr Geoffrey Mead. Almost 60 people came along to eat fish and chips and hear Geoffrey’s entertaining, illuminating - and occasionally stomach-churning - history of the development of the old slum housing to the east of St Mary’s. It was a great evening and, as a bonus, the Friends raised almost £500 towards a new grand piano for St Mary’s. Thank you to Geoff, the organizers, and also the kind folks at Sawadee Thai Restaurant for their gift of a meal for two as our main raffle prize.
The picture comes from the Regency Society's James Gray Collection (Ref. 22-47) and shows slum housing from the 1830s in the very narrow Laurel Row that ran between Lavender Street and Upper Bedford Street. It was demolished in 1935. If you click on the image it will take you to the Regency Society's album of photos for the whole area east of St Mary's - a fascinating collection.
Friends' Burns Night Quiz - 29 January 2017
Last month's Burns Night Quiz hosted by the Friends of St Mary's was the perfect antidote to a cold January evening - plus it raised around £400. Thank you to all who helped with the organization, especially the brilliant catering team, and also to our exuberant quiz master, Fr Robert Easton, who cajoled and scolded the rabble in equal measure. Congratulations to the winning table, 'McChurchy McChurchface' (note, we're dividing you chaps up next time) and also to 'The Vicars and Tartans' - appropriately dressed winners of the best team name. We expect to repeat this silliness in a good cause in the not-too-distant future.
Christmas at St Mary's
We had a joyful, loving, hope-filled Christmas at St Mary's. Thank you to all our volunteers who helped us prepare for it and to everyone who joined in our Christmas activities. Over 650 people came for services and events and many others dropped in to see the church and say hello. We were thrilled that we had enough helpers to keep the church open on Christmas Day until 6 pm, with food and fellowship on offer throughout.
Friends of St Mary's Christmas Cards - Thank you!
Thank you to everyone in the Friends of St Mary's, but especially Dominic, who produced and sold the Friends' Christmas cards. And thank you to the people who bought them and shared them around. They'll be back next year, along with some new designs, and we may have a calendar and a few other items on offer too.
All proceeds from the sale of the cards go towards the repair of our historic building.
A Kemp Town Cornerstone
St Mary's Church and its neighbourhood, within living memory
An exhibition of memories and photographs, old and new
Opens Saturday, 19 November, 2 pm
Afternoon tea - all welcome
For more information please call 01273 698601
Exhibition runs until March - open during our usual opening hours.
Thank you! Send a Banana Box of Love Campaign
Thank you to everyone who supported our winter clothes collection this autumn with Samara's Aid Appeal for displaced families in refugee camps in northern Syria and Iraq. In addition to the 30+ banana boxes of clothes and shoes we collected, we raised over £200 via our JustGiving campaign to pay for the dispatch of our boxes plus a few more.
Window Repairs at St Mary's
Please click on the Facebook link below to read about the conservation work we're carrying out on the Bell Window (1883) in the north aisle as part of our Heritage Lottery Funded repairs.
You can also read about and see more pictures of this window and the other two that have been removed here on the website.
Pride Sunday at St Mary's
7 August, 12 noon - 5 pm
Our lovely curate Herbert having a break from the hard selling work on our food stall at Brighton Pride Sunday today - ably aided by Magnus in his rainbow bandana. 😊 It was a really happy day of fundraising for both St Mary's and Lunch Positive and as an added bonus we met tons of new people. Huge thanks to Mary and Norma for so much fabulous food and to all our other cheerful and generous volunteers.
August e-newsletter from St Mary's OUT NOW!
St Mary's has a new monthly e-newsletter, which includes details of all our services, activities, concerts, etc. - and updates on our building works. If you'd like to receive a copy of this each month, please send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll add you to the mail-out list. We won't pester you with anything else - promise!
Click here to see the August 2016 edition.
Catch up on the July 2016 edition here.
Major Funding for the Repair of St Mary's Church
Brighton, 21 June 2016
We are thrilled and thankful to announce that St Mary's Church has received almost £273,000 from four major trusts to carry out urgent repairs to the west-facing elevation of the church, overlooking Upper Rock Gardens. The works comprise the comprehensive repair of the roofs, rainwater goods, underground drainage, brickwork, masonry and windows. We hope by Christmas to be able to show off a smarter, brighter church on Upper Rock Gardens for the benefit of our neighbours and visitors.
The Heritage Lottery Fund is our major funder and has granted us £216,300 under its Grants for Places of Worship. This follows on from a development grant of £17,000 the HLF gave us last year to cost and plan these works. We are profoundly grateful to the HLF for its advice and support and take seriously our obligations to preserve and care for St Mary's as a part of the nation's built heritage. We are using the works to raise people's awareness of the beauty and history of St Mary's and hope particularly to introduce more visitors to it via our neighbourhood history exhibition which we'll be launching as part of our HLF activities on the weekend of 19/20 November this year.
The HLF's core funding has been generously supplemented by a £40,000 Cornerstone Grant from the National Churches Trust, one of only three given out in the UK in this round of funding. Plus the Garfield Weston Foundation has generously awarded us £10,000 and the Sussex Historic Churches Trust has added £6,500 to the pot! We are hugely appreciative of all these grants, as each of them represents a substantial donation from the funds that each trust has available for these purposes.
We're also putting in almost £25,000 from our own resources, including ongoing fundraising. If you would like to contribute to these repairs, the Friends of St Mary's are running an appeal for one of the most damaged windows and would welcome your interest and support. You can also read more about our future repair and development plans here.
For further information, please contact Katherine Prior via email or on 07796 440 670.
The Friends' Quiz Night
The Friends of St Mary's held their first quiz night on Friday, 17 June and raised not only a ton of laughs but almost £700 to go towards the repair of the Soames Window, the Friends' special appeal this year. Huge thanks to everyone who helped with the organization and catering, those who came along to join in the fun, and, especially, the wonderfully jolly and erudite Fr Robert Easton of Brighton College, who was our genial and inventive quiz master. (Thank you to the Four Dodgy Ladies and a Vicar Team for the delicious photo of Fr Robert in full flow!) We've already had requests for more, so please keep an eye on the Friends Events and News to see when the next one is coming up. If you'd like to know more about the window that the Friends are supporting this year, you can read more about their 2016 appeal here.
The Purlers - Knitting with love
Mondays, 10.30 am
Here is Jane with a splendid knitted blanket which we sent, along with five others, to displaced families in northern Iraq and Syria via Samara's Aid Appeal. Jane is one of the lead knitters in our knitting group, The Purlers, which meets every Monday at St Mary's at 10.30 am. There's a rotating list of knitting projects for a chosen charity. Currently, in Summer 2016, the group is making tiny jackets and other comforts for babies in the Trevor Mann Baby Unit of the Royal Sussex County Hospital. Please join us if you fancy some convivial knitting and conversation while also doing something practical to help others. We provide all materials, tea and biscuits, friendly chat - while Jane, who is a textile genius, will also teach you how to knit if it's a skill you've yet to acquire.
A Great Michaelmas Fair!
We're thrilled to announce that our Michaelmas Fair on 3 October raised over £3000 for the Friends of St Mary's. It was a great effort, ably led by congregation member Ann-Marie. We're so very grateful to her and to everyone who donated goods for sales, prizes, and their time and energy to the fair. Especially to the heroic army of raffle-ticket sellers - well done!
And we're equally grateful to everyone who came along and bought things and gave the day its buzz. The fair was officially opened by actor and screenwriter Stephen Churchett (currently starring as 'Marcus the solicitor' in Eastenders) and he also drew the raffle for us at the close of the day. Thank you again, Stephen; we really appreciated your time and kindness.
As well as the money raised - which all goes towards repairing and improving St Mary's for wider use by our local community - we were delighted to welcome so many first-time visitors to the church. We really want the people living and working around St Mary's to see it as a community resource.
This link connects to a photo album with some images from the day.
Neighbourhood Exhibition 2016
In November 2016, as one of our commitments to the Heritage Lottery Fund, we are launching a neighbourhood exhibition at St Mary's to raise awareness of the heritage of the church and its neighbourhood. We're seeking people with memories, photographs, mementoes, etc. of St Mary's and the surrounding streets and buildings (many of which were demolished in the 1960s and 70s) which they would be willing to share with others. If this sounds like you, then please have a look at the exhibition page on our website for details of how to get involved. The more the merrier!
Heritage Lottery Fund backs restoration of St Mary's Church
Brighton, 28 January 2015
We are delighted to announce that the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has given us initial support for the restoration of St Mary's historic exterior. We have issued a press release about the grant, which can be downloaded here.
We have received £17,000 to investigate problems in the building’s fabric and develop our application for a full grant of £228,700, which is earmarked to restore our west-facing elevation along Upper Rock Gardens in 2016.
On hearing the news, Fr Andrew Woodward, our Priest-in-charge, said: ‘I’m very happy that the Heritage Lottery Fund has agreed that St Mary’s is worthy of restoration. Ten years ago we were threatened with closure. Now we have a bright future and every day we’re finding new ways of sharing our beautiful space with the wider community.’
The grant will also lay the ground for several heritage activities in 2016, including a public art project on the scaffolding hoarding that will run the church’s length on Upper Rock Gardens and a community-led exhibition about people’s memories of the streets and buildings around us, many of which were demolished in the 1960s and 70s.
Stuart McLeod, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East, said: ‘There is a place of worship in almost every ward, village and town across the South East region, providing a very powerful visual connection with our past. Not only will our awards secure the immediate future of these particular buildings, they will also empower congregations to find new ways to use them and new ways to engage communities in the heritage they offer.’
The church’s Inspecting Architect, John Bailey of Thomas Ford & Partners, is also enthusiastic: ‘It’s a great privilege,’ he said, ‘to work with St Mary’s, which architecturally is one of Brighton’s fine historic churches. The HLF grant will enable us to embark on the preservation of this nationally significant building and ensure that it remains the beating heart of this vibrant part of Brighton.’
Someone who knows St Mary’s well as a performance space is opera singer and teacher, Arlene Rolph, who runs singing and performance schools for children and young adults at the church. ‘St Mary’s,’ she says, ‘has been the perfect home for us to work and perform over the last year. The church is an inspiring space which really helps engage the imagination of the young singers and acoustically is a real treat to perform in. Because the people at St Mary’s embrace so warmly everyone who steps inside, I feel strongly that it deserves support to restore and maintain it.’
For further information, please contact Katherine Prior via email or on 07796 440 670.
150th anniversary of the death of
the Revd Henry Venn Elliott (1792-1865)
The Revd Henry Venn Elliott died 150 years ago, on 24 January 1865, just a week after his 73rd birthday. He was the first incumbent at old St Mary's Chapel, serving there for 38 years from its opening in 1827 until his death.
Elliott had a big impact on the life and indeed the buildings of Brighton. Under his leadership, St Mary’s became one of the most fashionable chapels in Brighton, and drew preachers and churchgoers from around Britain and far-flung bits of its empire. In the course of his work he founded St Mary’s Hall (1836), a school for the daughters of poor clergy - one of the earliest girls' schools in Britain - as well as its associated church, St Mark’s (1838). He was also one of four founder-directors of Brighton College (1845), the college's founder, William Aldwin Soames, being a worshipper at St Mary's.
In an era when Brighton's church politics were convulsed by the rise of Anglo-Catholicism, Elliott was on the other side - a leading Evangelical. But that label had subtly different connotations then to current usage. Victorian Evangelicals were the political liberals of their day, activists at the forefront of campaigns against slavery and the exploitation of indigenous peoples and keen advocates of the education of Britain's working poor. Elliott was a passionate supporter of the Church Missionary Society, founded by his uncle John Venn, driven by a belief that all humans were fundamentally equal and equally loved by God. More conservative voices within the Church scorned the idea that Africans or Indians could become 'real' Christians.
There are many things - most, probably - that we wouldn't do in Henry Venn Elliott's way in 2015. A devout opponent of Sunday entertainments and church theatricals, he'd certainly disapprove of the shows we host in St Mary's these days. And he would be very uncomfortable with the vestments, the incense, the bells... But nonetheless there remains much to inspire us in his hope-filled, inclusive theology. We can respect and learn from the past without having to worship it uncritically.
The font and Paschal candle. Photo Jean-Luc Brouard.