Hastings - St Mary Star of the Sea

1 High Street, Hastings, East Sussex TN34 3EY

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 St Mary Star of the Sea is a well crafted building of high quality,  probably correctly graded at grade II in the statutory list.

St Mary Star of the Sea is a distinguished work by an architect of national renown.  Many architects specialised in building for the Catholic church e.g. J S Hansom, F A Walters etc. but Champneys had a large and varied practice and he is best known for his collegiate work and for the John Rylands Library in Manchester.  He was a friend of Coventry Patmore, hence the commission in Hastings, though he did design other ecclesiastical buildings. 

1882. Architect Basil Champneys. Gothic style. Faced with flint cobbles with  stone dressings. C15 Style. High nave with clerestory, low aisles. West end facing road with large Perpendicular window with niched turret over gable. Intersecting traceried clerestory windows with buttresses between. Long nave and chancel in one with high semi-hexagonal east end. North transept with circular turret in angle with octagonal sand stone domed bell stage. Pantile roof. Interior: rib-vaulted. 

The foundation stone was laid in 1882 and the formal opening of the church was on 2nd July 1883.  The cost, excluding fittings, was £15,000.  The church was built at the instigation of Coventry Patmore, the Victorian poet, who gave a donation of £5,000 in memory of his wife. Owing to the sloping site the church is built over a full crypt.  Nave and chancel are in one and impressive owing to the combination of the 140ft length and the 37ft height to the top of the quadripartite stone rib vaulting.  The sense of height is also increased by the lack of an intermediate layer between nave arcade and the tall clerestory windows.  The sanctuary is dominated by the richly carved reredos of Derbyshire alabaster, with a multitude of saints in tracery and under canopied niches.  The reredos and altar cost £1,500 and was dedicated in 1891.  Original canopied choir stalls and the former organ loft on the north side.  The aisles are lined with side chapels, variously with carved stone and marble altars and Flemish style carved door surrounds.

Diocese: Arundel and Brighton

Architect: Basil Champneys

Original Date: 1882

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II