St John the Baptist’s Church

Perhaps a more appropriate topic to accompany an introduction to a book about our distinctive seafront would have been the King Alfred Leisure Centre.

The book in question, Ambles along the Promenade by Hove-based mathematician and photographer, Richard Sayer, does feature the King Alfred after all. Unfortunately, a quite bizarre exchange with the King Alfred’s general manager left me looking for something else to write about. It also left me wondering how bad it must be there for me to be refused access. And that leads me onto St John the Baptist’s Church which is located just to the west of Palmeira Square in Hove.

St John’s was built on land straddling the Goldsmid and Stanford Estates and plots were donated by Isaac Lyon Goldsmid and William Stanford for its construction. Most people don’t look up of course but it’s very easy in fact to spot the junctions between the old estates where the types of building change at several points along the seafront, on Church Road and on Eaton Road.

The Bishop of Chichester laid the building’s foundation stone in 1852 and then returned in 1854 to consecrate the flint and Caen stone structure. A different type of stone, Bath stone, was the material used for the tower and spire which were added in 1870. All Saints and St John’s nearby, built on Stanford and Goldsmid land respectively, weren’t so lucky and their spires were never built.

The St John’s Centre opened at the church in 1982 and caters specifically for the over 60s. The Cornerstone Community Centre was developed during the 1990s and is an excellent example of a sensitive conversion of part of a church building for community use.

The Cornerstone Community Market takes place on the first Saturday of every month where all sorts of local designers, artists and craftsmen exhibit and sell their work. The next event takes place on Saturday 6th November and Richard will be there promoting Ambles along the Promenade. I’ve never seen a book like it. His attention to the details which can brighten and enliven our days really is second to none.

The first photograph, one of Richard’s, is easily identified as St John’s but the second is a little harder. It’s only fair then that the two readers who let me know the whereabouts of this popular seafront spot the quickest will each win a copy of the book.