St Paul's Parish Church
Richard Cromwell Carpenter (1812-1855), with help from Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852)
1846-48; restored 1996
Flint, white limestone, and wood
West Street, Brighton
Carpenter's built this church in the Decorated or Middle-Pointed style of Gothic architecture. The building as a whole bears out what Reginald Turnor has said about the architect: "Although he shared the affectations of the Camdenians with Butterfield, R. C. Carpenter exercised a scholarly restraint and so avoided the worst excesses of inventiveness" (69). Indeed, according to the church's information sheet, St Paul's is considered "one of the first successful nineteenth-century Gothic buildings." It certainly drew a large congregation. With the Rev. Arthur Douglas Wagner as its first Vicar (from 1850-1902), it played a big role in promoting the Tractarian movement. As the information sheet concludes, in "an age of so much ugliness and unrest it is a joy to find such peace and loveliness, which speak of enduring values." The tower and unusual wooden octagon above it were added by R. H. Carpenter, the architect's son, in about 1873. This served for many years as a beacon for sailors along the Sussex coast, and was restored in 1996.
Photograph and text Jacqueline Banerjee
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