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©  Lorna Freeman

IoE Number: 481384
Location: ELIM TABERNACLE AND ATTACHED RAILINGS, UNION STREET (north side)
  BRIGHTON, BRIGHTON AND HOVE, EAST SUSSEX
Photographer: Lorna Freeman
Date Photographed: 03 July 2007
Date listed: 20 August 1971
Date of last amendment: 26 August 1999
Grade II

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BRIGHTON TQ3104SW UNION STREET 577-1/64/918 (North side) 20/08/71 Elim Tabernacle and attached railings (Formerly Listed as: UNION STREET Elim Tabernacle Church of the Four Square Gospel) II Nonconformist meeting house. March to August, 1825. Designed by Charles Augustin Busby and Amon Henry Wilds as a Presbyterian meeting house to replace Brighton's first Nonconformist chapel, erected 1688. Stucco scored to imitate ashlaring; regularly coursed cobbles and red brick on return to Meeting House Lane, where the window dressings are also of brick. Roof obscured by parapet; its centre section has a facing gable on a north-south axis. EXTERIOR: single storey to centre section; 2 storeys to each end bay, the return and the rear. 7-window range to front and 4- to return. Rectangular plan, the galleried meeting hall semicircular in plan, a flat, long wall to the north, that is, ritual east end. Service rooms fitted into quadrant spaces left over between hall and outer wall. Greek Revival Style. The main elevation angles back from the corner with Meeting House Lane to the party wall in Union Street. This novel arrangement permits a longer view of the Temple front than would otherwise be possible in a very narrow twitten. The front is treated as 3 bays, a tall centre of a 3-window range, which is articulated as a portico formed by a tetrastyle pilastrade topped by a pediment. The width of each pilaster narrows quite noticeably from top to bottom; the capitals are radically simplified and stylized version of the Doric order. Entablature with a triglyph and metope frieze over portico with ornamented soffit; the entablature, without the frieze and ornamented soffit, extends across the side bays. The walls in the bay to either side of the portico are set back slightly and framed by a pair of Tuscan pilasters. All window openings are flat arched. The windows and doors from the second- to the 6th-window range batter from top to bottom in Egyptian fashion, and have eared architraves; the windows under the portico have plain panelled spandrels. There is in addition a continuous plinth across the elevation. The left-hand bay is far narrower than the right. The front wall of the section just described is slightly battered, one of several refinements which tailor the building to this restricted site. There are formal entrances in the second- and 6th-window ranges; panelled overdoors with a 6-pane overlight of original design below. Above each entry is a plain panel. The glazing bars to the windows under the portico are of an original design, but with late C19 or early C20 glass inserted. There is a subordinate entrance in the first- and 7th-window range; the 4-panel door of the latter is of original design, its upper panels replaced by glazing sometime in the late C19. The corner range is not battered and projects beyond the rest of the elevation; its somewhat segmental plan smooths the turning of the corner. On the return 3 round-arched windows with 8/8 sashes and semicircular transom of original design. The first-floor windows are camber arched with 12/12 sashes of original design. Round-arched windows to rear of building. Cast-iron railings to main elevation enclosing a narrow area at the foot of the wall. Several memorials are fixed along this front wall. The earliest can be found in the corner range: a stone dated "1688" surviving from the original meeting house. Above, a rectangular panel which reads: "Glynn Vivian Miners' Mission. Opened May 1905 to the Memory of God". Embedded in the Tuscan pilaster to the left is a tablet which reads: "Built A.D. 1688. Repaired and enlarged 1810". There is a stone memorial tablet to the left of the portico which is a memorial to Henry Varley, 1835-1912, who was an Evangelical Missionary in London and abroad and spent from 1909 to his death in Brighton where he preached in this church; the memorial was erected by the officers and congregation of the Miners Mission. INTERIOR: the ritual east wall divided into 3 bays by a blind round-arched arcade, the centre bay broader than the sides. Above, in the upper reaches of the hall 3 round-arched windows. The rest of the hall filled with a semicircular gallery supported by 8, evenly spaced palm-and-acanthus leaf columns which may date to the late C19; rising from the parapeted gallery front are another 8 columns, these of the Composite order. The latter carry an entablature from which springs a barrel vaulted ceiling terminating in an hemisphere at the ritual west end. There are stairs to the gallery in the ritual north-east corner; curving gallery stair in each quadrant space. The only furnishings which remain are a late C19 or early C20 reading desk with turned balusters and, in front of this, a C20 Baptismal tub set into the floor. The hall is entered by 3 flat-arched entrances. HISTORICAL NOTE: the design has been misattributed to Amon Wilds. The plans were in fact signed by his son, Amon Henry Wilds, and the younger Wilds' partner, Busby. Although Busby drew up the plans (now in the Royal Institute of British Architects' Drawings Collection), the design was associated with Wilds after the firm dissolved in June of 1825. The original chapel became an Independent Chapel in the C18. In 1878 it was taken over by the Union Congregation which merged twenty years later with the Queen Congregational Church to form the Union Free Church. In 1905 the building was sold to the Miners' Mission. From 1927 until 1988 it served as the Elim Tabernacle of the Church of the 4 Square Gospel. It has been disused since then and is for sale at the time of this survey (March 1992). (Carder T: The Encyclopaedia of Brighton: Lewes: 1990-: 115V; Bingham N: CA Busby. The Regency Architect of Brighton and Hove: London: 1991-: 74 AND 75).

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