Fate of disused church is some way off

St Elisabeth's ENGSNL00120110831140350
St Elisabeth's ENGSNL00120110831140350

Plans to demolish a derelict Old Town church have been met with both support and opposition and a final decision is some time away.

The Church of England’s Church Commissioners carried out a consultation as to whether the disused church should be knocked down and the Victoria Drive site redeveloped.

That closed in January and a spokesperson said this week the Commissioners received a “good number of representations both for and against the provisions of a scheme which would see the imposing building, which is listed, finally razed to the ground.

Adrian Browning, a historic buildings specialist in the closed churches division, said all the various responses were being collated for the Bishop and they will then be considered by a committee.

“At this time we are near the beginning of this process,” said Mr Browning.

“We do not know the date for when our committee will be considering the representation.”

The meeting could be held in private or there could be a public hearing.

Meanwhile, campaigners are still trying to work out how to save a rare mural on the walls of the church crypt.

Historians say the Pilgrim’s Progress mural, painted by renowned artist Hans Feibusch is a “unique Holocaust memorial” and want to see it carefully removed, relocated and preserved if the building is demolished.

Estimates to move it are in the region of £300,000 and so far the only place identified as being able to house it is Eastbourne’s Leaf Hall building in Seaside.

Feibusch was Jewish and fled Nazi Germany in the early 1930s. He painted the mural between 1943 and 1944 and experts say that although the painting charts the Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, many understand that it also illustrates Feibusch’s own journey – as a Jew escaping the Nazi’s, finding himself in a strange land and having to make his way.

He remained in Britain and died in 1998