The History of His Place Community Church

His Place Community Church has been established since 1984, where we started as a house church. In 1987 we expanded and moved to  a community centre. In 1994 we moved to a building in Duke Road, St Leonards on sea.

On the 1st of November 2013 we acquired the former URC church building at Robertson Street, Hastings and had our first service on the 10th of November 2013 followed by our Grand Opening Service on Saturday the 30th of November 2013. 

 Church Building History

OWNERSHIP:

  • HIS PLACE COMMUNITY CHURCH, ROBERTSON STREET – Took up ownership of United Reformed Church formerly Congregational Church, November 2013
  • ROBERSTON STREET Congregational church, was built in 1885 by Henry Ward, in a classical Mannerist manner. Replacing an earlier smaller church of 1857 which had been enlarged in 1864.

MATERIALS: Coursed ragstone with ashlar and probably terracotta dressings.

PLAN: The church is set into the slope with a long elevation with entrances at church level on Cambridge Road, and a narrow elevation with an entrance at lower hall level from Robertson Street. It comprises a church aligned east-west with the pulpit and organ at the western end and at lower level a hall, which is now subdivided, a former Sunday school room and minister's room. At half level is a vestry leading via narrow stairs to the pulpit. (Vestry and Pulpit Not accessible to public)

Monumental stairs lead from the Robertson Street entrance to the eastern end of the church. A rear stair and stairs from the Cambridge Road entrances lead to the gallery. 

EXTERIOR: Cambridge Road. In six bays, of which five bays are of two storeys and an attic storey of full, pedimented dormers, while the pedimented eastern bay is wider and taller. Bays are articulated by loosely composed Composite pilasters.

Entrances in the outer bays have segmental pediments enriched with foliate carving, supported on triple pilasters with foliate capitals and a deep entablature. Over each entrance is a plain, segmental headed fanlight flanked by enriched foliate spandrels.

Oak doors have two-over-five raised panels, some glazed in green coloured glass in small rectangular leaded panes.

Ground floor mullion and transom windows are of three round-headed lights, in eared architraves. Tall first floor windows also in eared architraves, are of two lights, with a plain transom and have enriched pediments.

The eastern bay has a round-headed tripartite window at first floor. It is richer than the adjacent windows, having a hood mould and has two central lights below a circular light flanked by single lights below foliate panels. The elevation has a continuous frieze. Above it, the eastern bay has a tall pedimented attic storey, the pediment of which is in coursed ragstone, has stone or terracotta dressings and is enriched with foliate panels and is set over a Lombardic frieze. The five adjacent bays have tall pedimented dormers supported by scrolled brackets and each has a blind oculus. Between each is an open balustrade. Above the tripartite window and at the western end of the balustrade is a spiked sphere. 

Robertson Street. A narrow east-facing elevation on four storeys, in similar manner. The ground floor is in two bays with a pair of enriched arched entrances, one to the brewery yard, one to the church, all beneath a deep modillion cornice.

Church doors are of oak and part glazed. Upper floors are treated as a single bay. The first and second floors have a monumental three-light mullion and transom window rising through two storeys, flanked by paired Composite pilasters.

The window has enriched mullions and transoms, a bolection moulded frieze and an open segmental pediment framing a spiked sphere. The upper floor has a four-light round-headed tripartite window. The pediment, above a modillion cornice, is similar to that on Cambridge Road. Set back to the left is a tall stack. 

INTERIOR: The church has a horseshoe-shaped gallery with a curved profile decorated in a low relief foliate pattern and supported on cast iron shafts and pierced brackets. Similarly, low relief decoration is applied to round-arched blind panels lining the upper church walls.

The western end is defined by three, large, round-arched bays, with moulded arches and prominent keystones. At both levels are single pedimented doorcases, offset within the outer bays of the west wall.

ROOF: The church roof is coved with central, ribbed and moulded, diagonally boarded panels. The soffit of the gallery balcony is also boarded. Set forward from the central bay of the west wall is a substantial raised pulpit, with a projecting lectern, reached from gallery level and set above ministers' seating and the table below, all in pine. Behind it is the organ which has painted pipes. Walls have a panelled dado with red flock panels. Seating is in curved pews with diagonally boarded backs.

The church is reached from Robertson Street by a monumental stone stair with robust rectangular carved stone newels, an open arcaded balustrade and a polished moulded rail in a darker grey stone. At the head of the stairs, a pair of doors have upper panels glazed with rectangular leaded panes of green glass, and original brass door furniture. From Cambridge Road sets of double doors, some similarly glazed, lead to entrance lobbies, also with glazed screens, from which stone stairs give access to the gallery. Stairs have ornate cast metal newels and balusters and moulded timber rails. A timber stair with similar balustrades rises from the basement to the gallery at the rear of the building.

The vestry has pine fittings which include a dado with upper panels lined in red velvet, a fireplace and overmantel, fitted cupboards, and short flights of steps to the stairwell and to the pulpit. 

The lower hall, which is of lesser significance, is supported on cast iron columns. The space is now subdivided and has suspended ceilings and is of reduced interest. The former Sunday school room has fitted cupboards. The 'lounge' has a moulded ceiling and fireplace, and may be the room illustrated as the Minister's room in Charles New's commemorative book. 

(The former Sunday school room is now used for Art exhibitions, children’s activities and children’s café in school holidays, meetings, language school weeks, coffee mornings, election ballot stations and much more. There is an adjourning kitchen for use by organisations hiring the hall.)

HISTORY:

  • The Robertson Street Congregational Church was built in 1855 to replace a smaller church which had been built in 1857 and enlarged in 1964.
  • Henry Ward ARIBA (1854-1927) was articled to Wallen and Paxon before training in the atelier of M Genin in Paris.
  • He was a prolific and versatile locally based architect with offices at 8 Bank Buildings, (64 Station Road), Hastings.
  • He was in practice in Hastings by 1881, where he moved for his health, when he won the competition for Hastings Town Hall (listed Grade II) and went on to build the Town Hall in Bexhill. His Observer Building, also in Cambridge Road, Hastings was designed in 1914, but, interrupted by the First World War, was built in 1924.
  • As well as this Congregational Church in Hastings, he designed village chapels associated with it, and Congregational churches in Bexhill and Eastbourne (1903), the latter recently listed Grade II.
  • He designed most of the shops in the south-east for the department store Messrs Plummer Roddis Ltd including the premises in Robertson Street, Hastings which was completed shortly before he died. 

    REASONS FOR DESIGNATION AS GRADE 2 LISTED BUILDING:

The former Robertson Street Congregational Church, built in 1885 by Henry Ward(1854-1927), is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: 
* Architecture: Large urban congregational church with richly detailed exteriors and interiors by locally based architect Henry Ward; 
* Plan: Complex plan responding to its relationship to the existing street plan and topography which gives emphasis to its elevations; 
* Intactness: Unaltered exterior and dramatic church interior complete with fittings;
* Architect: One of a group of listed buildings by local architect Henry Ward whose work contributed to the character of late C19 and early C20 Hastings.