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.

A wave of prayer to lift you!

Help us to learn how to put the needs of others more firmly before our own. May those who exercise power and authority in our communities use it wisely, and may we, and they, serve the Lord with gladness. Jesus came into our world bringing your promises of grace and freedom for all of us.

We rejoice in the great body of people who form your church and to whom we are glad to belong. We pray for all those who love you and those who are yet to find you. Lord, we pray that this time of global illness be a time when we can all come together, we can all find you for the first time, or again, after having lost our way, but most of all may it be a time when you are seen and felt among us through the many who reach out to help, to comfort and to care.

The light given off by a candle reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world. May it remind us of that promise as we remember those who have died and gone before us. We remember them and those who mourn them. We pray in the quietness of our minds for all who we know have need of You. Those who are sick, in hospital; those who are badly affected by the present pandemic, those who are lonely or depressed, those who have no family help. Bless them and give them comfort and assurance, and give us courage to do what we can to help.. Give your grace and strength to all whose life is built round caring for others.

We pray for the world wide Church in all its wonderful diversity, bringing the elements of different cultures into their worship to and in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. Especially we pray for all churches for whom meeting together to worship isn’t possible or safe at this time. Let us all know and feel your all abiding presence to both uphold our courage and strengthen our faith. We pray for our own church in Worthing, and we bring before you all those who lead and inspire our worship, those who care for and pray for the sick and bereaved and those who carry out the maintenance and administration of the church. For we are called to go out and preach the Good News to all that will hear - and so we pray for all areas of outreach to both young and old and whether formal or informal that many will respond to the call of Christ to follow him.

Lord, in this world which is a part of your creation, we struggle to understand the reasons behind the great natural disasters which mankind must endure; whether it be hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, Tsunamis or the pandemic that currently has the whole world in hiding. But we do understand that in the midst of such events your love is shown in the acts of bravery, selflessness and compassion which follow. We pray for all who have suffered through the virus in such dreadful circumstances and for those who are tasked with providing the medical and community support and, in time, in the long task of rebuilding our economies and communities.

As our nation struggles with economic uncertainty we pray for the power-less, the hope-less and all those for whom our Lord would have us care for most. We pray for those who have to make the difficult spending decisions with reduced budgets knowing that all objectives and needs cannot be met. As our young people attend schools and colleges, we remember that the society they grow up in and the attitudes that they form are in our hands. Lord help us to work towards a just and equitable society, built on the values that are inspired by people of faith, vision and commitment and not on those of expediency, glamour and greed.

And so we think now of those in most need in our own community, the elderly, the housebound and those in care homes, hospital and hospice and for the work and devotion of carers whose skill and compassion bring both material and spiritual comfort at times of need. We also pray for those who feel the pain of grief at the loss of a loved one whether recent or as each anniversary passes. Help us to support all those who mourn both with our prayers, with words of comfort and with practical help both this day and in the days and weeks to come.