Church of All Saints
- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Statutory Address:
- All Saints Lane, Sidley, Bexhill-on-Sea, TN39 5HA
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- Statutory Address:
- All Saints Lane, Sidley, Bexhill-on-Sea, TN39 5HA
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- East Sussex
- Rother (District Authority)
- Non Civil Parish
- National Grid Reference:
An Arts and Crafts style church designed by G E S Streatfeild. The nave was constructed in 1909, with the tower, chancel, south-east chapel and vestry added 1927-1929.
Reasons for Designation
All Saints Church, Sidley, designed by G E S Streatfeild and constructed between 1909 and 1929, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* as a modest and eclectic church designed by the noted architect G E S Streatfeild, who designed several churches, a number of which are listed; * as a good example of the Arts and Crafts style applied to an ecclesiastical building; * for the quality craftsmanship, subtlety and survival of its interior.
Historic interest: * for the presence of the Sidley War Memorial, an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on the local community.
Until the mid-C19 Sidley was a small hamlet in the parish of St Peter’s, Bexhill. In 1865 a National School was built in Sidley, and for 20 years it was used both for education and as a place of worship on Sundays. In 1885 a temporary iron church was built on the adjoining site. In 1908 a replacement mission church was designed by G Hornblower, but was not built. A different, more permanent church was designed by Granville Edward Stewart Streatfeild, the nave of which was constructed with a limited budget of £2000 in 1909 following the demolition of the earlier iron church. A later legacy donation by parishioner John David Atchison funded a second phase of construction, allowing Streatfeild and his then partner, Frank L Atwell, to elaborate on the earlier design. Accordingly, the chancel, the south-east chapel and the north-east tower were constructed 1927-1929, along with a new vestry to the south adjoining the nave via a link. Evidently a larger budget was available for the second phase as all the exterior walls of the new parts of the building were faced with stone. The Church of all Saints was consecrated by the Bishop of Chichester on All Saints Day in 1930. Shortly afterwards it became a separate parish from St Peter’s, Bexhill.
In 1991 a fire damaged the chancel, which was subsequently repaired and re-ordered. Archive photography suggests that the timber roof structure survived the fire relatively unscathed. The organ console and choir stalls, previously in the chancel, were relocated to their present position at the west end of the nave, and a stone font was incorporated into the step leading into the chancel.
Streatfeild (1869-1947) was a Scottish architect educated at Marlborough College who gained practical experience with Messrs Dyers, builders of Alton, in 1886 before being taught by M Dentau of Evian le Bains in 1887. Later in the same year he was articled to William Oswald Milne in London. In 1890 he worked under Reginald Theodore Blomfield and then became an assistant to Thomas Graham Jackson in 1891, before setting up his own independent practice in London in 1893. Streatfeild had close ecclesiastical links via members of his family and built several churches, of which three others are listed: St Peter, Ticehurst, 1904 (Grade II); St Michael, Eastbourne, 1901-1911 (Grade II); and St Augustine, Brighton, 1896-1914 (Grade II).
An Arts and Crafts style church designed by G E S Streatfeild, built in two phases in 1909 and 1927-1929.
MATERIALS: the nave and the vestry are constructed from red brick with pebble-dash rendering and sandstone window dressings, covered by a red-tiled roof. The tower, chancel and south-east chapel are constructed from red brick faced with rough-hewn, brown stone blocks and sandstone dressings.
PLAN: the 1909 nave is rectangular on plan and oriented on an east to west axis, with two porches to the north elevation. At the east end the nave is open to the chancel, completed in 1929, which is also rectangular on plan and aligned to the north and south aisles of the nave. To the north of the chancel is the 1929 tower, square on plan with an octagonal stair tower to the north-east corner. To the south is the south-east chapel or Lady Chapel, also rectangular on plan and accessed via the south aisle. Parallel to and south of the main church is the vestry, rectangular on plan and accessed via a single-storey link to the south aisle. The south elevation of the nave, the west elevation of the link, and the north elevation of the vestry enclose a garden of remembrance on three sides.
EXTERIOR: the nave has pebble-dashed rendered walls covered by a sweeping, pitched roof with red, clay tiles and a deep, moulded eaves cornice. The north and south elevations have heavy buttresses with tiled set-offs and overhanging, hipped, tiled roofs projecting from the nave roof. Sandstone three-light windows with elaborate tracery and leaded glazing are set between the buttresses; five to the south elevation and four to the north. The west elevation has two similar buttresses topped with tiled gablets. The northern buttress rises to a chimney stack with recessed panels to the sides and topped with a hipped, tiled roof. Between the buttresses is a central five-light window and there are single-light windows to each side, all with cinquefoil-headed lancets and sandstone hood moulds. The gable end culminates in a stone cross finial.
The north elevation has two gabled porches: the western one is from the original phase and is half-timbered with the tiled roof descending below the roofline of the main nave roof, while the eastern porch dates from the second phase and is faced with brown stone with a slightly taller tiled roof. This latter porch adjoins the squat, square tower also faced in brown stone blocks with sandstone quoins.
The tower has an octagonal stair tower to its north-east corner which projects above the tall stone parapet of the main tower. Fenestration consists of trefoil-headed lancet windows with sandstone dressings; one to the north elevation at ground floor, four to the octagonal stair tower in staggered positions. There is also a pair of cinquefoil-headed lancet windows with Perpendicular tracery to the east elevation of the tower and the north elevation of the chancel. The bell stage of the tower has recessed panels with a pointed, arched corbel table integrated with the mullions of the louvered bell openings: three-light openings to the north and east elevations and a two-light opening to the west elevation. The south elevation of the tower facing over the church roof is blind.
The east elevation of the church comprises the tower, chancel, and south-east chapel completed in 1929, and is faced in brown stone with sandstone quoins to the corner buttresses of the chancel and south-east chapel. The gable end of the chancel incorporates a broad, arched window consisting of a wheel, seven cinquefoil-headed lancets and Perpendicular tracery. The gable itself has stone copings which rise to a stone finial in the form of a Celtic cross.
The south-east chapel has its own pitched tiled roof which springs from midway up the principal roof covering the nave and chancel. The east and west gable ends have moulded stone copings rising to a moulded finial at each end. The east gable end incorporates an arched window with three cinquefoil-headed lancets and Perpendicular tracery.
The link to the vestry is single-storey to the south, stepping up to a greater height at the nave end. Both parts have flat asphalt roofs. The vestry itself has a pitched, tiled roof. The east gable end is pebble-dashed with a single rectangular window to the ground floor and a narrow window above, both with sandstone dressings. The west gable end is almost identical but has a five-light window to the ground floor.
INTERIOR: the north and south aisles are delineated by timber nave arcades with decorative ogee braces above the arches. Two tiers of curved braces spring from each post to support the arch-braced roof. The transverse aisle arches die into the outer wall posts which terminate halfway down the walls. The overall effect of the exposed, timber roof structure and aisle arches is reminiscent of a barn.
The nave has parquet flooring throughout. A vintage postcard featuring a photograph of the church before the second phase of works began in the late 1920s shows the nave laid out with chairs, suggesting it never had fixed pews. The west end of the nave is subdivided with lightweight partitions to incorporate the organ pipes and an adjacent music room.
The chancel, completed in 1929, is largely open to the original nave, emphasising the connection between the two spaces with a broad, almost round-headed stone arch with a reeded soffit. The roof of the chancel is of hammerbeam construction. At the east end is the broad seven-light window with Perpendicular tracery. The south arcade has two arches of unequal width with a narrow passage arch between the two leading to the south-east chapel, which has a tall, three-arch west arcade, with the two outer arches wider than the central one, and an arch-braced roof. Both arcades are sparingly detailed with two chamfered orders, the inner dying into the imposts and the outer without capitals. The north wall of the chancel has a similar, blind arch incorporating a carved screen and a cinquefoil-headed lancet window.
The north-east tower, also completed in 1929, has a small family room and storage space at ground floor levels, which were created during restoration work following the 1991 fire. At first floor level is a double-height prayer room where the other side of the blind arch in the chancel is visible on the south wall. On the next level is a double-height space housing the bell and its mechanism, with walls of partially-rendered brick. The spiral staircase in the octagonal stair tower continues upwards to provide access to the flat roof of the tower.
The fenestration throughout the church features coloured glass panes arranged in abstract floral patterns. The window tracery predominantly has a mixture of Decorative and Perpendicular motifs.
PRINCIPAL FITTINGS: the stone FONT projects from the corner of the stone step to the chancel and consists of a cluster of shafts supporting a bulbous bowl with a carved, floral motif to the front. The octagonal, timber PULPIT has carved foliage and other motifs in the Decorated style. The north and south arcades feature carved, timber SCREENS with Decorated and Perpendicular motifs, cusping and floral bosses. Timber CHOIR STALLS carved with similar motifs were relocated to the rear of the nave following the 1991 fire in the chancel. The chancel houses an ALTAR with golden angels on the riddel posts. The south-east chapel has an early-C18-style stone ALTAR and a timber ALTAR RAIL with heavy, turned balusters. The timber screen in the northernmost arch of the west arcade to the south-east chapel incorporates a WAR MEMORIAL with a painted relief sculpture of Christ on the cross with the words: SIDLEY ROLL OF HONOUR and the dates of the First and Second World Wars inscribed in gold. The names of the fallen are inscribed on six panels at the bottom of the screen.
Books and journals
Antram, N, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Sussex East with Brighton and Hove, (2013), 131-132
Hamilton, A (Author), Arts & Crafts Churches, (2020), 12-18, 99
Dictionary of Scottish Architects, accessed 22 June 2020 from http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=201743
Sussex Parish Churches, accessed 12 October 2020 from https://sussexparishchurches.org/church/bexhill-all-saints-sidley/
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
End of official listing