1899 – Design for Union Church, Queen Square, Brighton, Sussex

Architect: John W. Simpson



Unbuilt design for Union Congregational Church. Their existing Gothic church, built in 1854 by James & Brown, was extended by Paulton in 1867. After merging congregations in 1897, it seems a new building was contemplated, although never constructed. The building was demolished in 1984.

Published in The Building News, May 5 1899. “We illustrate this week from the Riyal Academy a double-page perspective of Mr. John W. Simpson’s bold and clever scheme for the rebuilding of the late Rev. Paxton Hood’s Chapel, at Queen-square, in the centre of Brighton, at the top of North-street. The site, as will be seen by the accompanying plan, is V-shaped, the apex being occupied by the Congregational Church, to the north of which are three private houses, and beyond these a Baptist chapel. It is proposed to clear this entire area, having a frontage of 2&0ft., and a maximum depth of 104ft., and to build thereon a chapel seated for 2,000 persons, and to the north of this a lecture- hall, surrounded on three sides by classrooms.

The south end or apex of the site will be occupied by an entrance-hall, secretary’s office, and cloakrooms. The site is somewhat restricted in width, and has a considerable variety in level, there being a rise of 20ft. on the Air-street side from north to south. This has enabled the architect to provide entrances to the floors on various levels without necessarily using the staircases — a somewhat uncommon advantage. The central portion of ground floor is entered from the corner of Air-street ; the side seats are raised, and are approached from a main corridor which runs between Queen-square .and Zion-gardens. Three ample staircases provide for communication between upper and lower portions of the church. Retiring rooms are provided oft the main corridor, and the vestries for minister and deacons and the choir practice room are conveniently placed along the eastern side and Air-street frontage, but do not form a part of the actual church. The exterior of the building will be entirely faced with stone, and the interior of the chapel will also be of white stone up to and including the main cornice at the springing of the dome, except where oak panelling is introduced. The dome will have an external diameter of 61ft., and will rise from the springing at the main cornice, which is 58ft. above the floor level, rising to a height of 83ft. above the pavement. It will be constructed of concrete, covered with lead, and, internally, the surface will be plastered. It is hoped, eventually, to cover the internal surface with designs in mosaic, taken from Francis Uuarles’ “Emblems.” The seating of the chapel is proposed to be by chairs, and the flooring of hard wood-blocks. In the Queen-square front, under enriched niches beneath pediments, will be statues of Oliver Cromwell and John Knox. At an early date we shall give further drawings of the building, including an interior view, which is also now at the Royal Academy.”