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History of Christ Church.
Christ Church was built between 1840 and 1843 in response to and urgent need for and increased number of “sittings” in the town caused by the natural growth and the annual influx of visitors. The new church was in fact a second “Chapel of Ease” to Broadwater Church. (Chapel of ease is a second church in a parish often built because it is more accessible to some parishioners than the main church.) The first, built in 1812, (later called St. Paul’s) was strictly a proprietary chapel and did not provide for the poorer inhabitants.
The architect was John Elliott of Chichester. The church was consecrated 21st of September 1843 by Ashurst Turner Gilbert (Bishop of Chichester). There were then 900 sittings of which 600 were free.
Christ Church became a separate parish on July 31st 1855 and created a “District Chapelry”, (a division of a large or populous parish which has its own district chapel). The parish extended from the coast to Teville Road between Heene Road and the line of Chapel Road and South Street. Thus Christ Church became the first “Parish Church of Worthing” although never officially so designated. In 1865 galleries were built in the transepts to increase still further the accommodation. In 1876 the church was redecorated with selected texts of worthy scripture on the walls. At the same time the tower room was refurbished and the west gallery enlarged. In 1893-4 the west gallery was removed and the choir and organ were removed to the chancel. A further major redecoration took place in 1954.
It is now central Worthing’s most conspicuous flint building. The flints are medium to large and an interesting detail is the “garretting” (frequently called “galletting” in other parts of the country) or insertion of flint chips and flakes into the mortar. The stone “dressings” are in fact specially manufactured brick/terracotta blocks. The square tower, 85ft high, is a distinctive landmark and commands excellent views from its summit.
Inside, the nave is remarkable for the delicate proportion of the arcading which has always drawn favourable comment. The pillars are octagonal with moulded capitals. The roof is exposed pitch pine with nine tie beams each with a kingpost and struts.
The Organ(s) of Christ Church
The present organ, installed in 1970, is a splendid three-manual instrument giving much enjoyment and satisfaction (and not just to the organist!).
Originally, it is thought that the installation of a small instrument in the tower, the details of which are not known, may have coincided with the formation of the Parish in 1855. A larger instrument of three manuals by Bryceson Brothers of London was installed in 1865, also in the west gallery within the tower. This organ was moved to the new organ chamber north of the chancel in 1893 when the west gallery was removed and structural under-pinning work to the tower carried out.
By the end of World War II this organ was in serious need of rebuilding and the campaign to raise money included the amusing poster, which even appeared on the buses: ‘Said Vicar Scutt to Organist Bown, “Christ Church organ’s falling down . .” ’
Unfortunately it seemed impossible to raise the sum needed to rebuild the instrument and it was decided to purchase a Compton Electrone and to replace the pipe organ. This was done in 1951. This electronic organ was in use until succeeded in 1970.
Due to the deterioration of the Electrone and the need for constant repair, in 1966 the senior choir members made a collection among themselves and handed £5 to the Treasurer to inaugurate an Organ Fund. A few months later it was learned that Alexander J. Chisholm had left a bequest in memory of his wife (who had died in 1962) for the provision of a three manual pipe organ. This bequest amounted to almost half of the eventual sum required.
The organ, which was originally built by J.J.Binns of Leeds in 1892 for Baillie Street Methodist Church in Rochdale, was obtained in 1967 through Percy Daniel & Co. Ltd., who had heard of the instrument being for sale due to impending demolition of the church, and was eventually rebuilt by them, with some additions and a new console, and installed in 1970. It is sited in the south transept gallery with a detached console on the north side of the chancel. (A record of its original specification and siting in Baillie Street Methodist is held.)
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