Hastings – Christ Church, Blacklands, Laton Road
Planned in 1874 and opened in 1877 (1 p1), the church was completed and consecrated four years later. Built for the new Blacklands estate, which had previously been divided between the parishes of St Mary-in-the-Castle and Ore, it was designed by H Carpenter (BN 27 p681), surveyor to the estate; Pevsner’s attribution to the better known R H Carpenter (BE p520) is erroneous.
The church is built of brownish stone with lancets; those in the chancel have trefoiled heads and the chancel arch has foliage capitals. The five-bay arcades in the nave are plainer and though there is a break in the roofs, there is no clerestory, so the interior is dark. The original west end had three lancets and a roundel in the gable (1 pl 6).
A W Jeffery and W Skiller designed a porch in 1886 (B 51 p44) and added the disproportionately broad west tower in the same lancet style in 1889-90 (CDK 1890 pt 2 p154), thereby concealing Carpenter’s west end. The battlemented upper stage and low pyramid were intended to be higher and the proportions are unhappily squat, as funds ran out. Inside, there is a gallery in the tower arch, with a baptistery beneath.
The chancel was refitted in 1898-99 by J Hardman and Co (CDG 52 p50). The work was designed by D H Powell and is a remarkable example of a complete scheme by the company at this date, which should be better known. It includes stencilled decoration on the walls with figures of saints and there is more painting above the chancel arch and on the roof, whilst within the chancel the walls are covered in marble. The chancel area now extends three feet west of the chancel arch, surrounded by a screen on an alabaster base. Carpenter in 1883 designed an adjacent schoolroom (BN 46 p110), now linked to the church by a passage.
Font: 1901. Kneeling angel holding a shell, derived from a work by the early C19 Danish sculptor B Thorwaldsen (cf St John, Preston, Brighton)
1. (East windows) J Hardman and Co, 1888 (CDK 1888 pt 2 p143) (Queen Victoria’s Jubilee/Life of Christ).
2. (South chancel first and second windows, north chancel first window and south aisle, east and five south windows) J Hardman and Co, 1884-1901 (Hardman Index).
3. (Baptistery) J Hardman and Co, 1889-1901 (ibid).
Mosaics and wall decoration: J Hardman and Co (designer D H Powell). The painted decoration on the chancel walls and above the chancel arch is on a bright blue ground, with mosaics either side of the reredos.
Pulpit: Alabaster on marble shafts and part of Hardman’s scheme.
Reredos: Canopied alabaster and also by D H Powell.
Screen: Ironwork and also by D H Powell (BE(E) p426).
1. R Ralph: Christ Church, Blacklands, 1881-1981, 1981
My thanks to Nick Wiseman for the colour photographs