Visiting Grove Road Strict Baptist Chapel, Eastbourne, England: 19th century neo-Gothic style near the Downtown area
Familar frontage near Eastbourne's Town Hall
The architect for this building was J J Skinner. The structure dates from 1881.
Executed in red brick, with stone facings, there seems to be an unusual, two dimensional feel to the Grove Road frontage of this building, even though there is protrusion of the lower part of the elevation. At the probable origin of this apparent, two dimensional feel is the fact that the main entrance to the building is hidden from Grove Road; and instead symmetrical archways leading to less-than-conspicuous porches are present at the two extremities of the Grove Road elevation.
The influence of neo-Gothic is very pronounced: no less than 13 pointed arches, representative of this style, are present at the Grove Road frontage. The stone facing in a small rose window in the largest of these arches is particularly conspicuous. This, together with horizontal bands at the apex of the frontage, give a multicoloured look to the building materials at least vaguely reminiscent — albeit on a much smaller scale — of some of the well-known works of prominent Victorian architects such as William Butterfield and Alfred Waterhouse.
This Baptist congregation is linked with Gospel Standard Strict Baptists (1), a group known for the circulation of a magazine of that name. The original Baptist congregation, which predated the Gospel Standard connection, however, had been in existence since the beginning of the 19th century and which had met in a building known as Marsh Chapel. Among Protestant churches in Eastbourne, as well as a very strong Anglican presence, a Nonconformist heritage is thus also strong and deep-rooted.
Not one of Eastbourne's most well known church buildings, if it were hypothetically transposed to Ontario, New Zealand or other parts of the Commonwealth with a significant, Anglophone Protestant heritage, it might yet be hailed as a fine example of Victorian architectural heritage.
January 7, 2014
(1) Prominent personalities among early Gospel Standard Strict Baptists included John Gadsby and J. C. Philpot, about whom a book, The Seceders. 1961, was written by Joseph Philpot.
Some sourcing: Wikipedia.
Also worth seeing
In Eastbourne itself, the most famous landmark is probably Beachy Head, which lies within the Borough's limits; various, other attractions and noted buildings include the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Old Town, dating from the 12th century; the Italianate All Souls Church; Eastbourne Pier; Holywell; the Redoubt fortress; the 19th century Town Hall (a short distance from Grove Road Strict Baptist Chapel); Sovereign Harbour; the Martello Wish Tower; Leaf Hall; and many others.
How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York - Newark to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. (Distance from London Heathrow to Eastbourne : 146 kilometres.) For access by road, take M25/M23/A23/A27. There are rail links to Eastbourne from London Victoria railroad station. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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