Grafton Rd, Worthing, West Sussex, BN11 1QY, UK

History

Christ Church was built between 1840 and 1843

Christ Church and its burial ground between Grafton and Portland Roads has the distinction of being the first church in Worthing built in the gothic revival style. Christ Church was the first Parish church in the town centre, and the only one with a surrounding graveyard. Christ Church was built by subscription between 1840 and 1843 and cost £4,500. The Architect was John Elliott. It was designed to provide seating for 900 of which 500 were to be Free and Unappropriated for the ‘poorer classes of Worthing’ Christ Church was consecrated on 21 September 1843 by Reverend Ashurst Turner Gilchrist [Bishop of Chichester]
It became the second chapel of ease to Broadwater, the first being St. Paul’s looking east in Chapel Road.
By c1851, 380 attended the morning and evening services.
The church was assigned out of Broadwater and received Parish status on 31 July 1855, and created a ‘district chapel’. With help from Queen Anne’s bounty, a house for the incumbent was built in Westbrooke [along to the west on Richmond Road] by 1859. The Parish extended from the coast /South Street west to Heene Road from Teville Road south along the line of Chapel Road to South Street.
The church is the first example of the gothic revival in Worthing. It is of flint with brick dressings, and originally consisted of a chancel, aisled nave, transepts, west tower, and vestry.

In 1865 – 400 sittings were ordinarily let besides 42 seats in the chancel at the height of the season, thus Christ Church became the first “Parish Church of Worthing” although never officially so designated. In 1865, galleries were built in the north and south transepts.
In 1870, the church hall was built, [the east side of Portland Road halfway down walking south towards Shelley Road]. It is now converted into dwellings, but still known as ‘Christ Church’ flats In 1893-4 the west gallery was removed and the choir and organ were removed to the chancel. In 1894 the chancel arch was re-designed and other alterations were made.
Christ Church has played a major role in parochial service to the poor particularly during the period 1860 to 1890. it provided a workman’s reading room, a soup kitchen,[the building is situated on the east side of Grafton Road about 25 yards from the Church and is still in commercial use to day – but look for the plaque], a coal and clothes club, a “want” district fund and a special Mission to Seamen.

It provided an elementary school for girls and infants in 1861, which was situated on the west side of Portland Road [the flint stone building,  now apartments ] and one for boys.

THE EXTERIOR
The walls of the church are medium to large flints some knapped; an interesting detail is the ‘garret ting’, [frequently called] ‘gal letting’, i.e. the insertion of flint chips and hakes in the mortar. The ‘stone’ dressings are not entirely what they seem. The ‘quoining’ is actually specially manufactured | greyish cream brick/terracotta blocks some of which have weathered to reveal a reddish interior colouring. These brick blocks were an ‘experiment’ and delayed the building of the church but they reduced the cost.Unusually there are 6 entrances to the church. 2 – South; 2 – East;
1 -North & West. Click here for an historic picture of the church

THE INTERIOR
Nave …. The delicate proportions of the arcading have always drawn favourable comment. The 1849 guide states “long slender shafts of Caen stone support the arches under the clere story which conduce to a light and graceful effect in the interior. A distinctive feature is the stained pews with tall ends- large carved Fleur de Lys finials and latched doors. Click here for a picture of the current interior
The roof is of exposed pitch pine – nine tie beams each with king posts and struts… timbers of diamond cusped design tie beams supported on brackets resting on small corbels of varying design,

THE CHANCEL
The roof is of dark pine, a three bay hammer beam design; similar timbers: ends of beams bear coloured armorial shields. The floor is a good example of encaustic geometrical tiling which extends some way into the nave

NEW PARISH
In 1989, Christ Church became one of four churches in central Worthing in the team ministry of the Parish of Christ the King. [Holy Trinity, St Paul’s, St Matthew’s & Christ Church]
In the 1990’s Christ Church Hall was used to provide food for the Homeless and was the inspiration of the Reverend Rupert Bacon to start a Homeless Project in Worthing.
In 2008, Christ Church joined with Holy Trinity Church, in Shelley Road, two Parish churches forming the Parish of Holy Trinity with Christ Church. In Easter 2014, the congregation moved from Holy Trinity to join Christ Church together as one parish, under one roof.
Currently there are plans to use the Church to meet the needs of an ever growing Town Centre community and to use the Church building as a popular venue for outreach secular & non secular.

THE SOUTH GALLERY
Was traditionally known as the ‘Fishermen’s gallery’ – this is because the fishermen of the day were rather ‘smelly’ and less so if separated from the congregation down below. The organ has been sited in the Fishermen’s Gallery since 1970.

CHRIST CHURCH is Worthing’s most conspicuous flint building and still retains the original cobbled flint wall surrounding the church yard.
In 1876 the church was redecorated with selected texts of worthy scripture on the walls. At the same time the tower room was refurbished and the West Gallery enlarged. The church was again restored in 1908. Until 1953, the interior was painted with elaborate decoration.  Click here for picture. A further major redecoration took place in 1954.
In 1884 there were two Sunday services and an afternoon service for the children, but the congregation had been reduced, partly by the building of Holy Trinity Church, Shelley Road to the south west of Christ Church.

Christ Church original design was by John Elliott of Chichester and was apparently altered by the curate of St. Paul’s, as a result of strong criticism by the Cambridge Camden Society. There were also disputes between Elliott, the curate, and the Rector of Broadwater who had given the site.

Dates for your diary!

 

Tuesday 10th October 12.30 pm Lunchtime Concert with John Collins and Friends. Entry is free, bring a packed lunch, we provide the coffee and tea. Donations towards the Christ Church Organ repair fund welcomed on exit.

Tuesday 31st October 12.30 pm Michael Donin and Linda Williams return to tell us more of their experiences whilst in public office.

Monday 6th November 7 pm – Feature film showing of  “THE LAST FISHERMAN STANDING”.
This poetic film, recently featured on Countryfile, shares insights into a livelihood that is all but clinging on to today’s world, in Worthing and elsewhere along the British coast.
To find out more, visit their website!
www.lastfishermanstanding.org.uk