Visiting the former Ceylon Place Baptist Church, Eastbourne, England: Gothic Revival building dating from 1885

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Former Baptist Church, Ceylon Place, Eastbourne, East Sussex, England.
Former Baptist Church, Ceylon Place, Eastbourne, East Sussex, England. | Source
Map location of Eastbourne, East Sussex
Map location of Eastbourne, East Sussex | Source

Symbol of Victorian baptists craving respectability? or behemoth?

The former Ceylon Place Baptist Church, in Eastbourne, England, dates as a building from 1885. Its architect was J Wills (1).

The building's style is Gothic Revival. Materials used in the structure combined Bath stone and red brick. The Gothic element of the architecture is especially seen in the profusion of pointed arches at its Longstone Road frontage.

There is a strong, two-dimensional feel to the building's main frontage, broken somewhat by buttresses. Indeed, it is this rather elongated and flat-looking fa├žade which gives the observer a particular sense of the building's size. (One may surmise that this was possibly the architect's intention.)

The congregation which used it, both preceded, and outlived, the building. Previously, the congregation used a smaller, tin structure dating from 1871. The surviving congregation subsequently met at the Central Methodist Church, Eastbourne, a large building, the facilities of which are used by a few congregations.

The Victorian era in England was one when many churchgoing people from a Nonconformist (i.e., non-Anglican Dissenter) background increasingly sought social respectability. Something of this may be seen in the scale and grandeur of this building, which in some parts of the country would be counted as grand, even for a congregation used by the Established church. In recent years, its sale by, and the removal of, the congregation which previously met in it, and the building's conversion into flats (North America: condominium units) is possibly indicative of a considerable change of emphasis. A building which started in the optimistic 19th century as a perceived, social asset had thus become a liability, by the beginning of the 21st century, even a behemoth. Is this somewhat of a commentary on the 19th century attitudes and sense of priorities which led to its inception in 1885? I leave the question open.

The former Ceylon Place Baptist Church building is situated at 74 Longstone Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex, England.

January 7, 2013

Note

(1) Architect Wills, of Derby, was known for his church building designs, particularly including Nonconformist church buildings.

Also worth seeing

In Eastbourne itself, other visitor attractions include various fine church buildings, including the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Old Town, dating from the 12th century, and the Italianate All Souls Church; other sights include: the Beachy Head cliffs; the Martello Wish Tower; the Redoubt fortress; Eastbourne Pier; the 19th century Town 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. 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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