Building » Hove – The Sacred Heart

Hove – The Sacred Heart

39 Norton Road, Hove, East Sussex BN3 3BF

As the list description says a ‘a good quality late-nineteenth century Catholic church’.  The interior is well preserved with the post-Vatican II changes having been sensitively carried out. High quality decorative scheme and fittings.

John A Crawley (1834-1881) made the original designs for the church. The Builder obituary of Crawley reads ‘The late Mr John Crawley.- We are glad to hear that the practice of the late Mr John Crawley, of Bloomsbury Square, has been taken over by Mr Joseph Stanislaus Hansom…on terms of advantage to Mr Crawley’s family. Mr Crawley was latterly engaged on the new Roman Catholic Church at Portsmouth, two churches at Brighton, and other important works. He had in progress also plans for a new cathedral at Hong Kong, which has been unavoidably delayed by his illness and death; but they are now being pushed on by Mr Hansom.’

The foundation stone of Sacred Heart was laid in November 1880. The first section of the church (the eastern parts of nave, aisles and sanctuary) were opened on 28 September 1881, but Crawley died a few days before the opening.  J. S. Hansom acquired Crawley’s practice from his widow.  He lengthened the church to the west (almost doubling the length of the nave) and the church was re-opened on 25 October 1887. The third phase, the north side enlargement and the new Lady Chapel was designed by F. A. Walters and opened on 24 February 1915.

List description


Roman Catholic Church. 1880-7 by John Crawley and J S Hansom. Main benefactors the Rev George Alfred Oldham and Charles Willock Dawes. North aisle enlarged 1914-15. Rock-faced limestone and slate roofs. Details mainly of c.1300. Chancel, nave, long North porch entered from the east, north aisle with Lady Chapel to the east, south aisle with St Joseph’s Chapel to the east, north-west baptistry, link to the presbytery.

EXTERIOR. Chancel with three-sided apse, tall two-light windows, each under its own gable, and tow, gabled buttresses below window level. Lady Chapel (north) with 5-light Perpendicular window. Roof ridge continuous over nave and chancel. Clerestory. West window in a spherical triangle and containing elaborate tracery of quatrefoils and mouchettes.

INTERIOR. Vaulted chancel with tall wall-shafts. Vault paintings on canvas by N. Westlake and depicting the Coronation of the Virgin, archangels, John the Baptist and St Stephen. Windows with glass by Westlake (as elsewhere in the church – the window over the south-west doorway is Westlake’s last work). Reredos running the full length of the apse with carving of the Agony in the Garden (south), the Crucifixion (north with depictions of the Instruments of the Passion in the panels between. Lady Chapel approached from the north aisle through two arches with an open, cusped mandorla in the spandrel; reredos with carvings of the Assumption, Virgin and Child, and the Visitation, below altar with carving of the Nativity. South Chapel with attar with carvings of scenes from the life of St Joseph. Nave with five wide bays, a narrow bay and, beyond this a canted gallery with open balustrade and placed under a tall arch. Clustered piers with eight shafts and octagonal bases and capitals, arches with hollow chamfers and hood-moulds; in the valleys of the arches angels playing various musical instruments. Clerestory of two single lights per bay and stone wall shafts between each window. Florid pulpit with mosaic foliage panels and carvings of St Peter and St Paul at the angles. Keeled roof over the nave. Alabaster font bearing symbols of the Evangelists alternating with traceried panels; round the walls of the baptistry carvings of baptismal scenes and an inscription (‘Suffer the little children …’). N aisle stained glass of St Martin & St Vincent de Paul, The Good Samaritan and The Widow’s Mite c1908 by Paul Woodroffe.  Contemporary presbytery attached and forming a group to the south.

HISTORY. Established as a mission from St Mary Magdalen, Upper North Street, Brighton in 1876. Funds were available under the will of Fr George Alfred Oldham (d.1875) who had built St Mary Magdalen (1861-4) and the adjoining school. The original site was between Third and Fourth Avenues but was changed to Norton Road in 1880 in an agreement with the West Brighton Estate Company. The church was built in two phases; the east parts are of 1880-1. The westward completion was in 1887 when the benefactor was Mr C W Dawes, a former Anglican clergyman. He spent f5,000 which included furnishings and an organ by Bevington. The North aisle and chapel were rebuilt and widened in 1914-15 (contract price f 1,700). A good-quality late-C19 Catholic church. Bibliography: Canon J O Connor, Sacred Heart Church 1881-1981 [1981]

Heritage Details

Architect: J. Crawley, J. S.Hansom, F. A. Walters

Original Date: 1880

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II