St Wilfrid's Church, Elm Grove

Photo:Drawing of St Wilfrid's, Elm Grove

Drawing of St Wilfrid's, Elm Grove

Memories: The closing of St Wilfrid's

by Rita Denman

"In 1932 the new building of St Wilfrid's was begun. I was 3 years old and remember standing outside Harry Barton's greengrocery shop which was opposite, watching the builders with fascination. I lived a stone's throw from the site and week by week I saw this amazing building grow. The children in the area had always been welcomed into the life of the church, the activities and social occasions that the old 'tin church' of St Wilfrid had provided. As I grew, I too became part of the new church of St Wilfrid making many friends, a number of us eventually marrying within our group. They were lasting marriages and lasting friendships of 50 years or more.

Although my husband and I moved away from Brighton, the town and St Wilfrid's was always home and we came 'home' frequently in the early days, bringing our children to be Christened at St Wilfrid's. It was with unbelieving shock and sadness we learned that St Wilfrid's was to be closed and the building possibly demolished. However, due to its architectural merit, the building was saved and converted into dwellings. A new team ministry was formed from the St Wilfrid's Parish together with St Martin St Luke and St Alban.

The large congregation for the closing Service drew past Clergy and church members from far and wide together with the congregation who had lost the heart of their parish. The service was one of joyful thanksgiving for the work done by all those who had ministered in the parish for the past 80 years. The gathering that followed in St Wilfrid's Hall brought together many who had not met for years and memories and anecdotes were revived. The 'church' is of course the body of people and not the building. Nevertheless it was difficult to say goodbye to what had been part of many lives and opened up interests to so many young people.

When I went away, the great cross of Sussex flint on the tower was visible as the train pulled out of Brighton station. It had been the last glimpse of home, and the first to welcome me back."

Submitted to website on 23/11/2002
This page was added on 22/03/2006.