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St John the Evangelist's Church, Preston Village

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Title: St John the Evangelist's Church, Preston Village  
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Subject: Arthur Blomfield, List of places of worship in Brighton and Hove
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St John the Evangelist's Church, Preston Village

St John the Evangelist's Church
The church from the south

50°50′40″N 0°09′03″W / 50.8445°N 0.1509°W / 50.8445; -0.1509Coordinates: 50°50′40″N 0°09′03″W / 50.8445°N 0.1509°W / 50.8445; -0.1509

Location Knoyle Road/Preston Road, Preston Village, Brighton and Hove BN1 6RB
Country United Kingdom
Denomination Anglican
Founded 16 October 1901
Dedication John the Evangelist
Dedicated 26 October 1902
Status Active
Functional status Parish church
Heritage designation Grade II listed
Designated 26 August 1999
Architect(s) Arthur Blomfield
Style Early English Revival
Groundbreaking June 1901
Completed 1926
Capacity 800
Parish Preston, St John with St Augustine and St Saviour
Deanery Rural Deanery of Brighton
Archdeaconry Chichester
Diocese Chichester
Province Canterbury

St John the Evangelist's Church is an Anglican church in the Preston Village area of Brighton, in the English city of Brighton and Hove. The Grade II listed building, designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield, was started in 1901 but did not take its present form for another quarter of a century. In the meantime, the nearby parish church of Preston was severely damaged by fire, and the new church was granted the parish church status which it still retains.


The village of Preston was established on a downland site 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north-northwest of Brighton before the time of the Domesday Book.[1] St Peter's Church was its original parish church. No trace remains of the building mentioned in the Domesday Book: it was rebuilt in about 1260 in flint with a chancel, nave and tower.[2][3] The village, based around a crossroads and a manor house, Preston Manor, became part of the Borough of Brighton in 31 October 1873.[1]

The Stanford family, who owned most of the land in the area, sold it for residential development in the mid-1860s.[1] Rapid growth ensued, and the old church became inadequate for the increasing population. In 1899, the new vicar proposed extending the church, but the church council and local people felt that altering the ancient building would be inappropriate. Instead, the decision was taken to build a new church on land occupied by the garden of the vicarage.[2]

Work began quickly: the site, at the junction of Preston Road and Knoyle Road, was prepared in the summer of 1901, and the Bishop of Chichester Ernest Roland Wilberforce laid the foundation stone on 16 October 1901. Sir Arthur Blomfield designed the church, and the Crawley-based building firm of James Longley built it.[4] Construction work continued into the next year; the church officially opened after it was dedicated on 26 October 1902.[2][5]

At the time, St Peter's Church still held its ancient status as the parish church of Preston. However, after it was devastated by a serious fire on 23 June 1906,[6] the church authorities decided to transfer parish church status to St John the Evangelist's Church. This was completed at the end of 1908.[6][7]

A temporary church hall made of iron existed until 1913, when a permanent hall was completed.[2] In 1927, a parishioner donated money for another hall to be built next to it.[8] The previous year, the church itself had been extended with the addition of a chancel.[4]


Sir Arthur Blomfield designed the church in the Early English style.[5] It is very long:[9] it has a nave of 5¼ bays, and there is only a slight change in the roofline to the chancel beyond it.[4] At the east end of the nave, where the roof profile changes, there is a small flèche made of wood and lead.[9][4] The exterior is stone, faced with rock and dressed with stone blocks. The roof is tiled.[4]

The church has a chancel, chancel arch, nave with aisles on the north and south sides, vestry at the northeast corner, baptistery, buttressed narthex (entered from the nave through arches in the buttresses, beneath an overall arch and tympanum) and clerestories above the aisles. Both the aisles and the clerestories have five pairs of lancet windows.[4][9] Interior features include a sedilia, organ chamber, choir stalls, chancel screen, ornate multi-sided pulpit with green marble work, stone reredos designed as a triptych and depicting the Ascension of Jesus,[4] and a marble font depicting an angel kneeling with a shell.[4][5]

The church today

St John the Evangelist's Church was listed at Grade II by English Heritage on 26 August 1999.[4] It is one of 1,124 Grade II-listed buildings and structures, and 1,218 listed buildings of all grades, in the city of Brighton and Hove.[10]


See also



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