A walk around St Johns

walk around stjohns image

West Wall & Bapistry

The west wall and tower are all that remain of the Victorian Church and were carefully incorporated into the post-war design by Mr Goodhart-Rendel. The beautiful Baptistry was the gift of the first Rector, Canon H D Jones, as a thanksgiving for the children born to him in St Johns Rectory. In the apsidal ceiling of the Baptistry are inscribed the initial letters of their Christian names on either side of the letter J, the initial of their surname. On one side there is a stained glass window representing St Christopher, whilst the other side shows St Nicholas with three boys in a bath – there has been a link with the St Nicholas charity for many years, initially helping young people from care to begin their adult lives in the community, and latterly, helping families.

The Font

The hardwood-lidded Gothic Font dates to the Victorian age and is square with four marble subsidiary columns around a circular column base. The Font was damaged in the 1943 bomb blast, but has been restored.

Windows

 The nine windows in the Baptistry are the work of Miss Thompson and conform as nearly as possible with the destroyed originals in this apse.

If you proceed down the Nave, you will see the remaining windows, designed by the architect’s favourite designer, Mr Ledger. On the south side of the Nave are male Saints, whilst female Saints look in from the windows on the north side.

On the male side St Richard and St Wilfred are closely associated with the Diocese of Chichester, St Augustine was the founder of Canterbury Cathedral and St David was the name Saint of the Church’s first Rector.

On the female side, St Margaret was the daughter of a Saxon prince, an evacuee from the Hastings neighbourhood at the time of the Norman invasion and later Queen of Scotland. St Cecilia is included because of the strong musical tradition of St Johns. St Catherine of Alexandria bears the instrument of her martyrdom – a spiked wheel – and St Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin, is also shown.

The Nave Altar, Choir Stalls and Pulpit

A Nave Altar and Communion Rails in light oakware introduced in the early 1980s. The Choir Stalls, with their small statues of the Apostles, the Bishop’s Chair, the Sedilia and the Altar and Priedieus of the Sacrament Chapel were features of the former Church that survived the 1943 bomb. They have been altered to conform with Mr Goodhart-Rendel’s pastel colour scheme for the furniture of the Chancel and Sanctuary. Of particular interest is the Octagonal wine glass Pulpit which is also finished in pastel green, blue and salmon.

The East Window, Sanctuary and Furnishings

As intended by the architect, there is a view of the High Altar from every seat in the Church.

The theme of the striking East Window is Christ in glory above all Creation. The various stages are depicted …the air, the land, the sea and the uttermost depths of the ocean. Saints John, James, Peter and Paul are easily recognisable in the flanking lights.

The Sanctuary carpet was made in Donegal to the pattern and colouring devised by Mr Goodhart-Rendel.

The Sacrament Chapel

The colour work on the Bishop’s Chair (to the left of the High Altar) and the Sacrament Altar were carried out by the Hastings School of Art. The Eagle lectern is Victorian, having survived the 1943 bomb. The dark oak, three-quarter size crucifix was a gift from the convent of Holmhurst St Mary on its closure. The Sacrament Chapel is the point from which the priest, attendants and choir process during a normal service.

The South Aisle

The St John the Evangelist windows show events in chronological order after the Resurrection and here also is the Foundation Stone laid by The Princess Elizabeth. On a bright Sunday morning, you will often see the pillars of the South Aisle bathed in all the colours of the stained glass windows on the right.

The Tower Porch and Bells

The four bells were cast at Annecy, in Haute Savoie, France in 1891. The equipment in the bell ringing chamber enables one person to operate clapper strokes on the bells. The bells are named in commemoration of the children of the donor: Sam (850 kilos), Adela (450 kilos), Florence (250 kilos) and Delano (110 kilos).

The North Aisle

If you move across the Baptistry to the North Aisle, you can view the windows commemorating St John in the Gospels.

The Well

Beside the organ casing, under the wooden hatch, lies an old well from the former Gensing Farm. The water from this well has been used for giving thanks to God for the gifts of Creation at harvest time.

The Organ

The Organ was purchased from the Chapel of St Catherine’s College, Cambridge in January 1976. The case was designed and made by Mr Walter Cruttenden, Church Warden, and bears the coat of arms of St Catherine’s College and the Hastings Borough coat of arms.

The Te Deum Window

If you return to the Baptistry via the Nave you can look up to the Te Deum Window. The design of the west window, lofty in conception and execution and figured in white glass in the leaded cames, as in the Nave windows, vividly conveys the spirit of the morning prayer, the Te Deum.

The North Porch

If you then leave the Church via the North Porch you will see the Canadian Memorial on the left as you go out. The cost of building this porch was borne by the Parish and it is regarded as the Parochial War Memorial. It commemorates those who paid the supreme sacrifice in the two World Wars, including the men of the Essex Scottish Regiment of Canada who were billeted in the Parish – including the Rectory – whilst preparing for the Dieppe Raid in which so many died. The Anglican Church of Canada made a generous gift of £750 to the Church in recognition of the kindness shown to the Canadians by the Parishioners of St Johns.

Outside The Church

The Church is surrounded by gardens. The Memorial Garden, with its stone memorial cross contains the ashes of many who have loved St Johns Church. Elsewhere, shrubs and plants have been donated in memory of friends and family members. The wooded area contains snowdrops planted in memory of children who have died. The Peace Garden at the eastern end of the grounds was inaugurated as part of St Johns Millennium celebration. It is intended to be a place of tranquility in which local people can meditate, remember close friends and relatives and draw close to God in prayer.

If there is anything not covered in the website that you would like to know, do make contact.