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Visiting Central Methodist Church, Eastbourne, England: huge, Nonconformist structure resembling an Anglican cathedral

Updated on March 4, 2016
Flag of England
Flag of England | Source
Central Methodist Church, Pevensey Road, Eastbourne
Central Methodist Church, Pevensey Road, Eastbourne | Source
Map location of Eastbourne, East Sussex
Map location of Eastbourne, East Sussex | Source

Decorated Gothic Revival

Situated at the intersection of Pevensey Road and Susan's Road, in Eastbourne, East Sussex, England, is a building, dating from 1907, which resembles either an Anglican cathedral or else a large Anglican parish church.

Actually it is Methodist. This building, named Central Methodist Church, seems to exude something of an early 20th century Nonconformist desire for social respectability. At one time, prior to the socially and psychologically cataclysmic World War One, the Central Methodist Church, which was designed to seat 1000 people, received hundreds of members and adherents within its doors. Today, the sheer size of the building is an issue which has led to innovation: more than one congregation uses the building (and not all the users are Methodist).

The building was designed by Carlos Crisford. Features include Gothic arching: the style of the building is a particularly ornate form of Gothic Revival known as Decorated Gothic Revival.

Thus, we see pinnacled buttresses and a wide, lancet window over a prominent porch, in addition to a conspicuous spired tower. Words such as 'solidity' and 'monumentality' suggest themselves.

With leaders such as John Wesley and others, Methodism started as a somewhat frugal movement, with a stress on the inward life, prayer, and Bible reading. By the time this huge Methodist church was built, however, 'frugal' is not a word that would have come to mind about the design of this huge, cathedral-like building (1). It may be said that a congregation that has the money to spend on a lavish cathedral-like edifice also obliges (even condemns?) future generations to sustain similarly considerable expenses in the huge building's upkeep.


(1) Some large, Nonconformist buildings are sometimes referred to informally as Nonconformist Cathedrals; but at least historically, these two words would formerly have been regarded as a contradiction in terms. Cathedrals without episcopacy and huge, ornate buildings with no sustenance from state patronage: these are some of the dilemmas with which Western church religious life has had to contend.

January 8, 2013

Also worth seeing

In Eastbourne itself, there are various, interesting 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 visitor attractions include: Eastbourne Pier; the Beachy Head cliffs; the Redoubt fortress; the Martello Wish Tower; 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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