Brighton - St Mary

5 Surrenden Road, Preston Park, Brighton, East Sussex Bn1 6PA

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 The church is built of Kentish ragstone with Bath stone dressings and a roof covered in Cornish slate.  The first mass was celebrated on Easter Sunday 1912.  The church has nave, south aisle and a substantial north west tower.  The style is late Gothic or ‘Arts & Crafts gothic’.  The short polygonal sanctuary (in brick) was added in c1978.  The interior is lofty and light, with big three-light windows and cylindrical columns to the south arcade.  There is little stained glass but a recent window by Cox & Barnard of Hove at the east end of the south aisle.

The catholic church at Preston Park grew out of a community of French nuns, the Sisters of Charity & Christian Instruction of Nevers, escaping persecution in France, who settled in the parish of St Joseph’s in 1903 and moved to Withdean soon after.  A growing Catholic community in the area highlighted the need for a new church separate from St Joseph’s.  Land was acquired in 1907 and Percy Lamb(1871-1947) drew up plans.  Lamb trained with Edward Goldie and started his own practice in 1907.  He was a great admirer of J F Bentley and worked with him for some years.  Lamb was clerk of works at Westminster Cathedral from 1895-1907 (Bentley died in 1902).  Catherine Broderick, a Catholic benefactor, provided funds for the building of the church and the foundation stone was laid on 9th August 1910. 

Percy Lamb is a low-key figure in architecture probably partly because he spent the first 12 years of his professional career as clerk of works on Westminster Cathedral.  He was 36 when he set up his own practice and he always worked on his own.  Who’s Who in Architecture 1914 gives no detail other than his address, 13 John Street, Adelphi, London.  He designed a number of catholic churches and convents.  St Mary’s is a well-crafted design.  The body of the church is in a fairly conventional early 14thcentury gothic, of lofty proportions but the tower and west front are Perpendicular gothic with ‘arts & crafts’ idiosyncrasies.  Despite the falling ground the church has good townscape presence in Surrenden Road. 

The first mass was celebrated on Easter Sunday 1912.  The church has nave, south aisle and a substantial north west tower.  The style is late Gothic or ‘Arts & Crafts gothic’.  The short polygonal sanctuary (in brick) was added in c1978.  The interior is lofty and light, with big three-light windows and cylindrical columns to the south arcade.  There is little stained glass but a recent window by Cox & Barnard of Hove at the east end of the south aisle.

Diocese: Arundel and Brighton

Architect: Percy Lamb

Original Date: 1912

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not listed