Barnabas Futures (blog)

Focus Groups @ St Barnabas (October 2023)

As part of the St Barnabas transition project, two days of group meetings are being held on Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th November 2023.

We are eager to hear how we can meet future needs from the groups that use St Barnabas, and groups that might use the building in the future.
We invite responses from community groups and statutary bodies, on topics
A: Children Under 5s,
B: Cooking,
C: Music and Performing Arts,
D: Health and Well-being/ Mental Health,
E: Hobbies and Crafts,
F: Disability Issues,
G: Primary-school-age Children,
H: Elderly and Isolation,
I: Young people/ teens.

The event notice on the St Barnabas homepage on this website contains an invitation to participate in one or more focus group meetings for this project. There are embedded links to Eventbrite for these meetings.

Do email us at [email protected] if you want to know more or can’t make a focus group but would still like to be involved.

St Barnabas Church Bexhill — We’re here to stay. We’re here for good. (May 2023)

A second Barnabas Futures exhibition was held in February 2023, at the church, with invitations delivered door-to door,

The exhibition was launched by an invitation event hosted by the independent charity Bexhill Heritage, at which the project architect (John Bailey of Thomas Ford & partners) spoke on the work done in responding to the St Barnabas Challenge. Over 100 people attended this event, and there was much interest and the open discussion question time following was lively and positive. 

A further viewing of the exhibition by the Diocesan Advisory Committee of Chichester Diocese was also well attended, and positive reviews were given. A guest at this session from Historic England was interested in the proposals because of the
“Heritage at Risk” status.

The architects' plans for the future of St. Barnabas were presented on A1 exhibition boards. Members of the proactive team were available to explain the information provided and answer the many questions.

Approximately 52 people attended the exhibition. It was encouraging in that several people came back the second time to express their opinions, as well as to see the new Architect's boards that were on display. This time, having the interior plans for the premises, as well as the exterior housing diagrams, was good to fuel the discussions & surveys.

Most of the visitors were locals and were interested in the development of the facilities & the community aspect of the new design, which was pleasing to most of them. Many questions were rooted around the accessibility, natural daylight, keeping the interior architectural features, café facilities, loos, plus the community aspect of the interior facilities for weddings, Mum's and Toddlers groups, Scout groups, musical rehearsals & concerts, and other youth involvement - something which is very much needed at this end of the town.

Local residents agree that the existing church has significant issues, but stressed that it is an important local building with attractive architecture. They made clear that any plans should look to not only preserve the church in use and maintain sacred space, but further, - to go beyond - to change, develop and widen the uses of the church and site, to increase vital income and become an asset for the whole community

St Barnabas Church Bexhill — We’re here to stay. We’re here for good. (February 2023)

In November 2022, St Barnabas Church, Bexhill was mentioned Bexhill Observers article on Historic sites on Heritage at Risk Register.

The Churchwardens and congregation of St Barnabas Church in Sea Road, Bexhill are now pleased to tell you that they are here to stay! Contrary to popular belief they are not closing. We are thankful for the support of the National Churches Trust (NCT) in helping us move forward.

Churchwarden Angela Wyle said “Sadly, St Barnabas is in need of much repair and updating and has been placed on the A list of heritage at risk. To support our plans to transition St Barnabas Church into a community hub, the National Churches Trust (NCT) has granted £9,000 towards paying for an architect to give a design for the future. For this I would like to express my grateful thanks to the NCT in their support of us’.

St Barnabas has a rich history, both in the building and its presence in the local community. The Grade 2 listed building (Bexhill’s second largest) was designed by distinguished Victorian architect Sir Arthur Blomfield.

St Barnabas is held in special affection by both town and local community.

A feasibility study was taken by Paul Whitnall of Ten Spires CiC who reflected that "St Barnabas is a treasure to celebrate - a lovely generous space, with some fascinating and unusual features - well worth investigating! But there is no doubt that major interventions are needed, to meet the costs of major repairs and to adapt the building to ensure a long-term viable future. Finding the best way forward takes bravery, thought and specialist help - and the National Churches Trust grant has enabled St Barnabas to grapple with the challenges they face.”

Starting on Friday 24th for three days St Barnabas are holding a public exhibition of its plans for the future. They will be seeking the publics reaction, thoughts and suggestions for saving its heritage for the future.

St Barnabas has a rich heritage of social outreach that was started by its first vicar, the Revd. Mortlock. It was he who supported the poor of the town, providing them with a nurse to help with their medical needs. Recognising the need for children’s education, he opened the first primary school — the building now houses Bexhill library. St Barnabas’ outreach continues today by accommodating the Homelessness Unity Group (HUG), and other support work such as bereavement and support groups and other social activities. Of course, the primary purpose of St Barnabas is worship and the pastoral care of the community.

The Parochial Church Council (trustees) are delight to have the backing of Dr Edward Dowler, Archdeacon of Hastings, who has offered them much practical advise and spiritual support. He says “I am delighted to be able to support the transition project at St Barnabas Church. Since it was built in 1891, the church has stood as a beacon of the Christian faith in its town centre location. We hope that the project will continue to enable it to do so for many more years, whilst also opening up this spacious and sumptuous historic building and the surrounding land for a range of wider community uses”.

Deputy Churchwarden Russell Meredith said “This exciting news will help us prepare for the future. St Barnabas is a splendid building with a vast amount of space that needs to be adapted so that more in the community can make use of it. We are looking for new ideas and volunteers to help expand our outreach and would be pleased to hear from anyone interested.”

St Barnabas aims to be a fully-committed community church and meeting point for everyone.

Please email [email protected] if you are interested in helping.

St Barnabas Church Bexhill — We’re here to stay. We’re here for good. (January 2023)

St Barnabas are pleased to announce that we have received a Gateway Grant of £9,000 from the National Churches Trust (NCT), towards an architect’s feasibility study of a design for the future of the church.

St Barnabas has a rich history, both in the building and its presence in the local community. The Grade 2 listed building (Bexhill’s second largest) was designed by distinguished Victorian architect Sir Arthur Blomfield. Unfortunately it is on the English Heritage A list of heritage at risk. Major interventions will be needed to ensure the future of the building, both for repairs and to make it sustainable in the longer-term. The architect’s study starts a planned Transition Project, to enable the church to be a hub for the community, while also retaining worship space and the essence of the church’s heritage.

The opening up of this spacious and sumptuous historic building and the surrounding land for a range of wider community uses will be a collaboration between the parish and the Diocese of Chichester. We are thankful for the support of the National Churches Trust (NCT) in helping us move forward.

Please email [email protected] if you are interested in helping.

The National Churches Trust is delighted to support St Barnabas Bexhill with a grant towards an architect’s feasibility study.

Churches, chapels and meeting houses are impressive, exciting and beautiful places. Working together with churches across all four nations, we help to keep these wonderful historic buildings in good repair and with modern community facilities. Our aim is to ensure these buildings can stay thriving today and tomorrow.

Thanks to the generosity of our Friends and supporters, since 1953 we have provided over 12,000 grants and loans and ensured that thousands of churches, chapels and meeting houses throughout the UK have remained open and in use, supporting local people and at the centre of thousands of communities.

You can help us to support even more churches by becoming a Friend of the National Churches Trust. Friends receive invitations to our events, including church tours; a subscription to our bi-annual Friends Newsletter and regular Friends E-newsletters; a complimentary copy of our Annual Review and a range of special offers and discounts. 

New Friends also receive a free copy of Treasures of English Churches by Dr Matthew Byrne, a beautiful and inspiring book on the wonderful treasures that churches contain.

The future of the nation’s churches is in our hands. We need to ensure that they are valued and saved for the future, before it is too late.

You can find out more on our website at, or telephone us on 020 7222 0605 or email [email protected].

With many thanks,

Sir Philip Rutnam,
Chairman, National Churches Trust

Seeking ideas to SHAPE the FUTURE of St Barnabas (November 2022)

St Barnabas is the parish church of Bexhill town centre, a special building and a significant landmark. We are committed to keeping and celebrating the church! However the building is now urgently calling for major and expensive repairs, far beyond the capacity of the congregation.

The design and size of the church makes it inflexible, unsuitable for most community purposes, and expensive to operate.

Barnabas Futures is being set up by the Parish and the Diocese of Chichester, working together. We are reviewing the best way to secure the future of St Barnabas Church. Without improvement, the future looks bleak.

What are the improvements needed to better serve our community? - and how can we fund them?
It is prudent to explore a range of options. In order to develop a long-term plan, we want to understand the priorities of the wider community. Will you contribute to finding the best way forward?

A public exhibition was held for five days at the end of November 2022, which was a valuable opportunity to discover the views of the community.

If you would like more information but were not able to attend the exhibition, or if you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us!

Contact details: Exhibition was arranged by Barnabas Futures, 34 Summerdown Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN20 8DR.   Emails welcome to [email protected] - Tel: 0751 525 4040



second_exhibition_boards, PDF