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Visiting All Souls Church, Eastbourne, East Sussex, England: Italianate & Byzantine design by Alfred Strong, 1882

Updated on December 18, 2012
Flag of England
Flag of England | Source
The Tower of All Souls Church, Eastbourne
The Tower of All Souls Church, Eastbourne | Source
All Souls Church, Eastbourne
All Souls Church, Eastbourne | Source
Map location of Eastbourne, East Sussex
Map location of Eastbourne, East Sussex | Source

Glowing features

This strikingly designed church building, that of All Souls (Anglican) Church in Susan's Road, Eastbourne, has been described as showing a combination of styles, including Italianate, Byzantine and elements of Romanesque. Its architect was Alfred Strong, of the Parr and Strong partnership, of London; its patron was Victoria, Lady Wellesley (1). The building was built on reclaimed marshland between 1881 and 1882.

The structure is executed in brick and terracotta. When the sunlight bathes the building, this has the effect of making the brickwork glow in an impressive way. These red, white and yellow building materials catch the sun most effectively. In Victorian times, when churches and Oxbridge Colleges started to be built using red brick, this gave rise to many spirited discussions among those who were more accustomed to less vivid stonework for church and college buildings. In time, however, what might have been regarded in the 19th century as an avant garde design, has doubtless come to be seen as rather traditional.

Among the salient features of All Souls Church are its 25.3 metre tower, reminiscent of an Italian campanile, and an intricate rose window over the building's main entrance and frontage.

My feeling is that if this building happened to be located in North America, there would be those who would classify it as Richardson Romanesque. What with the popularity of features such as the Syrian arch and brickwork rustication in late, 19th century North America, certain appellations have taken hold which might not necessarily apply elsewhere.

Eastbourne is in England's county of East Sussex. All Souls Church.

December 18, 2012


(1) Victoria, Lady Wellesley was commissioned to supervise the building of a church under the terms of a family will. This was of course during the days of much ecclesiastical patronage; and when taxation levels allowed people with particular plans and convictions to promote church and philanthropic causes to a greater extent than would be the case today, in Western countries. (Biographical note: Victoria, Lady Wellesley was a great-niece of the 1st Duke of Wellington, Wellesley being the family name of the Dukes.)

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; 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. Please 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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