St Michael’s Church

You would think that it’s hard to miss a giant red-brick building in an area full of cream and white houses but it’s easily done. In fact, those not in the know already find it quite easy to miss the Montpelier & Clifton Hill Conservation Area altogether.

Roughly speaking, the Conservation Area covers the triangle between Dyke, Montpelier and Western Roads. The area doesn’t offer many simple cut-throughs so it’s easy to miss the area containing some of the prettiest streets and buildings that you’ll ever see. St. Michael’s Church sits at its heart on Victoria Road close to the stunning Powis Square and Montpelier Villas.

It was originally built as a much smaller church in 1858-62 by George Bodley in an Italian Gothic style. Plans were soon made for a significant enlargement by William Burgess which came to fruition in 1895 after his death. The original church became the south aisle and side chapel of the new much larger church.

The imposing red-brick exterior with stone dressings is certainly quite something but it is the interior that is most impressive. That’s not quite true as I’m thinking specifically about the church’s famous stained glass windows by William Morris and other Pre-Raphaelites which, I suppose, are both internal and external. When the light is right, the effect is superb. However, the interior, especially its intricate stonework, is overall of the highest quality and well worth a look.

There are only several Grade I Listed Buildings in Brighton & Hove and St Michael’s, or St. Michael & All Angels Church to give the building its proper name, is one of them. The Royal Pavilion, Brunswick Square, Brunswick Terrace, Sussex Square, Lewes Crescent and Stanmer House are all examples of other Grade I Listed developments. There are many Grade II Listed Buildings though not so many Grade II* which is the category between I and II. Although local councils can lobby for a building to be listed, it is decided by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport.

Father Robert Fayers runs the church fantastically and is always extremely welcoming. The Friends of St. Michael’s are on the look-out for volunteers to help with tours. If you can help then please see www.saintmichaelsbrighton.org for contact details. If architecture or religion are not your thing, then be sure to at least check out the Saturday morning fry-ups from 9-11am – divine!