IT IS clear from recent correspondence within the newspaper that there is a range of emotions about St. Elisabeth’s Church in Victoria Drive, emotions which are probably never going to be fully satisfied.
However, the Feibusch murals within the church, based on The Pilgrim’s Progress, are a very important contribution to contemporary religious art and their future needs to be assured in a way that allows them to be seen by the public.
Is there some way in which the church could be made useful for the benefit of Eastbourne?
I believe that one possibility would be for the council, in conjunction with local historical and heritage societies, to apply for finance from English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund and other sources to acquire the building and make it the Local History Centre to hold the considerable history archives that at present do not have a proper permanent home.
Because of the size of the building, St. Elisabeth’s offers not just the opportunity of storage space but space for offices for archivists to create an authoritative catalogue of the archives and a proper base for the Eastbourne Museums Service to operate from.
There would also be space for local researchers to use the archival material to bring to light more about the story of Eastbourne, space for local societies to hold meetings, and space for exhibitions that tell aspects of the history of the town.
This idea can be a more purposeful way to make something of a building of character rather than previous ill-fated attempts to turn it into accommodation, or to demolish this listed building and probably destroy the murals in the process.
At a time when the council is considering its strategy for culture, wouldn’t a project of this type do for the history of Eastbourne what the Towner has done for art?