CHRISTMAS Day saw the last regular service at one of Bexhill’s landmark churches, which has closed its doors after more than a century of Christian worship.
St Andrew’s Church in Wickham Avenue was dedicated in 1900 and is part of the Bexhill parish team ministry, overseen by the Rev Canon Edward Bryant, who himself stands down as team rector next month after 12 years in Bexhill. He will, however, continue as rural dean for the time being.
Father Edward said financial worries were a pressing concern for churches at both national and diocesan level, and added: “One of the reasons for the sad demise of St Andrew’s has been its problems in making ends meet. We can expect other churches to find themselves in the same situation.”
He added: “St Andrew’s has had a wonderful and valued ministry in the town centre for over a hundred years and it will be greatly missed. It is right to pay tribute to its faithful congregation who have supported it and cherished it over many years.”
A traditional Anglican church, St Andrew’s has always followed the Book of Common Prayer. A final Eucharist to celebrate its life and witness will be held there on Sunday, January 8 at 10am, led by the Archdeacon of Lewes and Hastings, the Venerable Phillip Jones.
It is hoped that, diary permitting, the Bishop of Chichester, may also attend.
It is likely that many members of St Andrew’s congregation will in future worship at one of the other two churches in the team ministry - St Michael’s in Glassenbury Drive, Bexhill, or St Peter’s in Bexhill Old Town.
Father Edward said: “That is, of course, up to the individual. St Andrew’s is unusual in that it has no particular parish attached to it and has been what is known as a chapel of ease. No decision has yet been made on what is to become of the building itself.”
St Andrew’s was built in 1900 to a design by Joseph Barker Daniel Wall (1849-1923) who lived in Bexhill from 1887, where he worked as an architect and surveyor, helping to develop the town which features many houses designed by him.
St Andrew’s is of flint construction and has cement-faced lancets. It does not have a tower or spire, but instead a bellcote. Its aisles are separated by iron piers and it has a short chancel.