St Bartholomew’s Church near Brighton Station is another Wagnerian epic. Not content with completing the construction of St Martin’s Church in honour of his father (see ‘Gothic Beauty’), the Revd Arthur Douglas Wagner took sole responsibility for this gargantuan edifice near Brighton Station.
The church’s dominance of the surrounding area has been muted by the construction of the trendy New England quarter, but the visitor has only to stand on the south side of the building beneath the impressive rose window to share John Betjeman’s fantasy of the clerics arriving into the church on the backs of elephants.
It is a church of two halves. The exterior is austere featuring purple-brown brickwork designed by Stanning & Co; inside all is sumptuous – a 30 ft high cross, Stations of the Cross carved from wood and stone brought from Bruges in 1881, and a lovely set of mosaics above the altar by F. Hamilton Jackson. Search out the elaborate silver and copper metalwork on the altar in the Lady Chapel, installed by architect Henry Wilson. Both Wilson and Jackson were devotees of the Arts and Crafts movement and it shows in their fastidious decoration.
Concerts are frequently performed in the church – the spacious aisles allow large audiences to gather and enjoy the superlative acoustics.