The history of St Martin’s church begins with the Revd Henry Michell Wagner, who was Vicar of Brighton from 1824 until his death in Oct 1870.
In the Victorian era, the population of Brighton grew rapidly and so the city’s boundaries were expanded as new housing was built. Seeing the need for a church in the area north of the Level, adjoining the Roundhill district, Henry Wagner drew up plans for a small flint-walled chapel, that would serve as a temporary mission church in the neighbourhood surrounding St Martin’s street. Worship then began in this chapel in 1867, after the Revd Arthur Douglas Wagner – one of the three sons to Henry Wagner – obtained the Bishop’s licence. From its first days, the chapel served two functions – while worship took place in the large upper room, the two smaller downstairs rooms were used as a school, and so it is from this time that the close connection between St Martin’s church and our school began.
Since the chapel could only hold 350 people, the larger church of St Martin’s was soon designed. With the death of Henry Wagner, St Martin church was then left to his three sons to build, with Somers Clarke Jr as the architect. At an estimated cost of £11,538, work began in Sept 1872, and was then later finished and consecrated on Saturday 1st May, 1874 by Richard Durnford, the Bishop of Chichester.
History of St Wilfrid’s, St Alban’s and St Richard’s
St Wilfrid’s church was founded on 25th August 1901, to serve the community being built rapidly on Elm Grove, which was laid out in the 1850s. As tightly packed terrace housing was built on the northern and southern slopes of the hill between the 1860s and 1900, the area quickly became densely populated.
In 1922 the church was given its own parish and, owing to a further increase of 2,000 people within its boundaries, new building was needed, which was then built between 1932-34 and consecrated on the 25th November 1933. The church was closed in 1980 and has since been converted into private flats.
St Alban’s was built between 1910-14 to serve the Coombe Road suburb east of the Lewes Road – an area historically known as East Preston. It was closed on the 22nd November 2006. Demolition and replacement with housing were authorized in February 2013.
St Richard’s – originally the daughter church of St Matthias, on the Ditchling Road – was built in 1954 as a mission chapel for the new communities in Hollingdean.
The area developed out of the Hollingbury and Roedale Roads, which were built in 1890s, followed in the 1920s by the Hertford Road area. The council estate to the east was built in the 1950s, and the Brentwood and Uplands Road areas in the 1960s.
Whilst the church hall is no longer used for worship, it serves the local community in a variety of ways through lettings. If you are interested in hiring the church hall, please click here.