First phase of Brighton church restoration revealed

Vicar Archie Coates at the top of St Peter's tower last week (Photograph: Elle-Anna Smith/St Peter's Brighton) SUS-170116-131805001
Vicar Archie Coates at the top of St Peter's tower last week (Photograph: Elle-Anna Smith/St Peter's Brighton) SUS-170116-131805001

The newly-restored spires of St Peter’s Church have been unveiled as scaffolding begins to come down at one of the city’s landmark buildings.

The first phase of a £1.7m external restoration of ‘Brighton’s Cathedral’ was completed last month, with the top section of the tower being restored to its former glory by a team of stonemasons.

The top of St Peter's  (Photograph: Elle-Anna Smith/St Peter's Brighton) SUS-170116-133213001

The top of St Peter's (Photograph: Elle-Anna Smith/St Peter's Brighton) SUS-170116-133213001

St Peter’s Church, located between The Level and the Royal Pavilion, is a Grade II*-listed building, built between 1824 and 1828. Its architect Sir Charles Barry also rebuilt the Houses of Parliament.

But decades of ‘weathering, ageing and corrosive salt laden winds’ have damaged the building, resulting in the church being placed in the Heritage ‘risk register’.

The restoration project, which launched in 2009, has resulted in the rebuilding of the balustrade and pinnacles and the tower roof being replaced.

The project was funded with £250,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), alongside grants from English Heritage, the National Churches Trust, Garfield Weston, Allchurches Trust and Sussex Historic Churches Trust.

As the church reaches a milestone in its restoration, Rev Archie Coates, vicar of St Peter’s Brighton, said the church had been its busiest since it was threatened with closure in 2009. In December it welcomed more than 3,400 people to services over the festive season, including a children’s carol service with live farm animals and a candlelit prayer event to mark New Year’s Eve.

Rev Coates said: “Many local residents and passers-by will have noticed the scaffolding starting to come down on St Peter’s, revealing the beautiful craftsmanship that’s culminated from many hours of hard work.

“The restoration of this Brighton landmark externally is certainly something to be celebrated, but it’s also what’s on the inside that counts. I’ve been delighted to see hundreds of dedicated volunteers welcome so many new faces over recent weeks – from members of the street community at our weekly Safehaven events, to parents and carers at Thursday’s Tots & Toddlers group – there really is something for everyone.”

The next big event at the church is the launch of its latest Alpha course - on Wednesday, January 25 – giving visitors the opportunity to explore the meaning of life over nine sessions.

Oliver de Trafford, owner of Moksha Caffe on York Place opposite St Peter’s, reflected on the impact of the church on the local community. He said: “St Peter’s has had a profoundly positive effect over the last seven years, embracing and supporting the local community, boosting business and investment and generally raising the profile of the area. I look forward to watching them grow and regenerate the church more over the coming years.”

Funding is now sought for the next phase of restoration at St Peter’s Church, which is set to start in July this year. Phase two will involve cleaning and repairs to stonework of the mid-upper section of the tower.