Demolition of Eastbourne church delayed until 2020

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The planned demolition in September of the derelict St Elizabeth’s Church in Old Town has been put off until early next year.

Church officials had agreed the building – next to the new modern St Elisabeth’s Church and parish centre be knocked down and the land redeveloped.

But it has been delayed until the new year so a rare mural within the crypt can be removed and restored to its former glory in another venue.

A spokesperson at the Church of England Commissioners told the Herald this week there was an original deadline of September 1 for the Feibusch mural to be removed and relocated.

The mural – entitled Pilgrim’s Progress – is a vast piece of art work by the painter Hans Feibusch, a Jewish refugee from Hitler’s Germany who painted it in the 1930s to express his gratitude to the British for allowing him to live here.

Originally, enthusiasts and historians hoped to raise the £350,000 to have it removed and looked at Eastbourne’s Leaf Hall as a possible alternative venue. Now it appears it will be taken to a “socially engaged community arts hub in Newhaven”.

Alex Gray, the director of Martys Gallery and Project Space in Lewes and a supporter of the Feisbusch Progress Project CIO, is behind the push to save the mural.

She said, “The mural can be salvaged before demolition takes place using the strappo method of removal, which will enable us to re-site it in a new location. Salvaging the mural is a priority because of its cultural importance in the canon of twentieth century art in Sussex and because of its historical importance as one of the first war memorials of the Second World War and a rare piece of British Holocaust art.”

The Church spokesperson said, “Removal of the murals will begin in September and demolition is scheduled to take place once they are out.”