The Parish Church of

St. Michael and All Angels, Lancing

St Michael�s Line Drawing 2

Historical Notes

By Mervyn Lloyd Tout (Late Churchwarden, September 1997)

Updated by The Reverend Barry Carter (Vicar, May 2005)

 

Beginnings

The first proposal to build an Anglican Church in South Lancing came in 1880 from the Vicar of Lancing, the Reverend F. Fisher Watson. The proposal was abandoned a short time later, due to his sudden death. Owing to the increase in population, however, the need for a new church became more pressing. A public meeting was held on 2 July 1912, at which a decision was made to build a church South of the railway line.  A committee was appointed, and Mr. Carr Lloyd of Lancing Manor gave a plot of land next to the Parish Hall in South Street. The plans of Mr. Arthur Young, of Messrs. Arthur Young and Allen D. Reid, were accepted.

The scheme was temporarily abandoned during the Great War of 1914 - 1918, and suffered a further set-back with the resignation of the Vicar, the Reverend Edmund Peel.

 

Decision to Build

Lancing continued to grow. The area of the village south of the railway line to the sea front became a popular place for small areas of residential housing. The land was formerly just used for horticultural purposes or open spaces. In February 1923 a further meeting took place in the Parish Hall, at which it was decided to raise funds so that building could commence. A new committee was formed, and the plans of 1912 were adopted (with certain alterations) and tenders to build were invited.

 

Work Begun

Through the sterling efforts of the Reverend Canon E.C. Paton, the new Vicar of Lancing, Messrs. Gates and Sons of Shoreham-by-Sea began work in 1923 on the first portion of the building. It consisted of Chancel, Chapel, two bays of Nave and Aisles, and Vestry accommodation, with a temporary West end constructed of corrugated iron!  The cost of this portion was £6,000, and Canon Paton gave a personal gift of £2,000. The initial plans were for a building externally constructed of Sussex flint, 110 feet long and 55 feet wide, with a low square Sussex tower 46 feet high.

 

Laying of the Foundation Stone and Dedication

On 18th. March 1924, the Bishop of Lewes, the Right Reverend Henry Southwell, visited the site. In a simple ceremony, he laid the foundation stone bearing the name "St. Michael and All Angels". Building continued during the rest of the year. Difficult weather conditions, however, delayed its planned completion date of Michaelmas.  On the evening of 5th. December 1924, the Bishop of Chichester, the Right Reverend Winfrid Burrows conducted the first part of the impressive Dedication Ceremony and, early the following morning, he celebrated the first Eucharist in the church.

 

First Vicar

At this time St. Michael's was a daughter church of St. James the Less in Manor Road. Canon Paton and the Reverend R.A. Hodges, the Assistant Curate, shared the responsibility of conducting regular services in St. Michael's. As Lancing continued to develop, a decision was taken to create a new Parish of St. Michael and All Angels, South Lancing, and this was formed on 29th. May 1931. The Bishop of Lewes, The Right Reverend Hugh Hordern, instituted Mr. Hodges as the first Vicar on 19th July of the same year.

 

Continued Growth

Lancing was growing quickly as a residential area, due mainly to the building by the Southern Railway of the Lancing Carriage Works on land in the West of the parish. St. Michael's catered for the rapidly increasing population. Due to the need to widen South Street, the Council required some 16 feet of the East lawn in front of the church. In return for the land the Council built a flint wall to match the exterior of the church, to replace a wooden fence. Inscribed stones defining the original boundary of the church were inserted in the wall, and can still be observed just above pavement level near the South and North pathways). At the same time the War Memorial was moved from outside the church to its present position outside the Parish Hall.

 

Second World War

During the Second World War (1939 - 1945) the church played its part in keeping the community together. Many Parade services were held in the church during the time of the hostilities. These services were attended by troops stationed in the district, and also by the local Home Guard, Civil Defence and other organisations. On 27th. February 1942 the Reverend A.C.R. Hogan became Vicar, instituted by the Right Reverend George Bell, Bishop of Chichester. During the war years, despite all the difficulties, special efforts continued to raise money for the completion of the church. There were Devotional Plays, Tableaux and Pageants. At the end of war, special Victory services were held in the church, when the flags of the Allies decorated the church walls.

Parish and community life recovered quickly after the war ended. In 1947, extra land on the West and North sides of the church was given by local landowners. Plans to build a new church hall were prepared in 1952. It was to replace the St. Michael's Reading Room, located some 200 yards South of the church (down South Street). These plans were subsequently postponed.

 

Completion

In 1956, the architect, Mr. F.E. Green, prepared further plans for the completion of the church. The original plans for a church with a tower were considered too expensive, and Mr. Green's new plans were accepted. His proposal was for a West end consisting of another bay of Sussex flint construction, with identical North and South porches of brick, surmounted by a wooden belfry.

In March 1958, Canon Paton, the founder of St. Michael's, died in the Isle of Man. He left a legacy of £1,000 to the parish, and this sum was placed in the building fund.  In the same month, part of the church grounds on the South side was consecrated as a Garden of Remembrance, for the interment of cremated remains. Work started on the new West end in September 1958, at a cost of £11,000. The building work was carried out by Messrs. Frank Duke and Sons of Steyning. The foundation stone for the extension was laid on 6th. December 1958, by the Reverend E.C. Esdaile, Vicar of Lancing. It is located under the West window near the font. The stone bears an inscription to the memory of Canon Paton, founder and benefactor.

The work was finished in the spring of the next year. The Right Reverend Roger Wilson, Bishop of Chichester, made his first visit to St. Michael's on 29th. May 1959, in order to dedicate the completed church. At this time, the original chairs were replaced by bench pews, many given by members of the parish in memory of their loved ones.

The church has played a prominent part in the life of Lancing, as the village has grown as a residential area since the 1960's.  Today it still acts, as it always has, as the home of a caring community of Christians at the heart of South Lancing.

 

Update: Re-ordering of the Chancel

In 1999, the seventy-fifth anniversary year of the church, work was carried out to re-order the chancel, in line with works previously carried out to the East end of the South Aisle ("The Lady Chapel"). The choir stalls were removed and the number of levels in the chancel reduced from three to two, by removing the step on which the high altar had been placed. The high altar was renovated and moved to a position in the centre of the chancel. A large cross was suspended from the ceiling above this point and screens were erected on the North and South sides. Removable communion rails were added at the chancel step. A moveable ambo was built and placed on the South side of the chancel step as a place for the proclamation of the Word of God.

The result was a more flexible and open space for worship. The choir no longer wore robes and moved from their former place in the chancel to pews in the North Aisle. The new work was dedicated by the Bishop of Horsham, The Right Reverend Lindsay Urwin at Michaelmas 1999, during the "Festival of Angels", a flower festival celebrating the seventy-fifth anniversary of the church. The work was dedicated "To the glory of God, in honour of Saint Michael and All Angels and in memory of Mervyn Lloyd Tout". The late Mr. Tout, who wrote the main part of these historical notes, had been very much involved in the plans for re-ordering and had died suddenly in August 1998 before the work was actually carried out.

The late choir member, Mr. Clifford Venn, subsequently modified the pews used by the choir to accommodate their books and music, using wood from the platform on which the old choir stalls had formerly stood. After his death a small brass plaque was added to his work as a memorial. Fitted cross-stitched kneelers were then provided and made by members of the congregation in memory of the late Mr. F. Reginald Picknell, who had succeeded Mr. Tout as Churchwarden, and had been in office during the works to re-order the chancel.

 

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