St Nicholas’ Church Green Spaces

I heard last year that Brighton & Hove City Council was setting up an initiative to tackle residents’ concerns about the security and maintenance of St. Nicholas Churchyard. This summer, the resultant rejuvenation of the green spaces is bearing testament to the success of the project.

Those living in the vicinity of St. Nicholas Church are spoilt for choice when it comes to amenity societies (and their associated abbreviations!). There’s the West Hill Community Association, the Montpelier & Clifton Hill Association (MCHA), the Clifton Montpelier Powis Community Alliance (CMPCA) and, of course, the city-wide Regency Society. Complimenting the fine work of the Friends of St. Nicholas, there is now the St. Nicholas Church Green Spaces Association (SNCGSA).

The centrally-located Grade II Listed St. Nicholas Church – named after St. Nicholas of Myra, the patron saint of fishermen – is the ancient parish church of Brighton. The Churchyard, or ‘green spaces’ as it is now being called, consists of three sections – the enlarged principal Churchyard that was enlarged in 1818 plus two separate plots on the other sides of Church Street and Dyke Road that were laid out in 1824 and 1841 respectively. Many local historic figures are buried there including Captain Nicholas Tettersell, Phoebe Hessel, Martha Gunn, Sake Dene Mahomed and Amon Wilds, the great Regency builder.

Amon Wilds’ tomb in the eastern extension was probably designed by his son, Amon Henry Wilds, and is the most distinctive of them all. The duo was responsible in a large way for the Brighton & Hove of today. The tomb’s large decorative shell motifs are the same as the ones on Wilds Jr’s buildings and leave us in no doubt that a great man rests below. Wilds Jr was paid £25 to design the third extension in an oriental fashion. The distinctive archway and row of family vaults were part of the design but unfortunately the large stepped pyramid that he proposed was never erected due to cost. Wilds Jr’s grave has only recently been located – in a non-descript spot behind a bush in Old Shoreham. How inappropriate.

Following the clearance of much ivy, an ongoing project to investigate the various monuments and graves is taking place. But it’s not just historic stuff being organised; even live events are being arranged. Continuing the success relies on volunteers so to get involved, see http://forum.sncgsa.org/ or call Simon Bannister at the Council on 01273 290000.