Friday, 16 June 2017

Fire at St John the Baptist Church, Kemptown, Brighton

Fire Service at St John the Baptist's
On Thursday night, 15 June a fire was set in St John the Baptist's Church in Kemptown, Brighton causing damage to the Sacristy and its roof as well as minor damage to the back of the church along with smoke damage in the church itself . Fortunately no one was hurt and the damage was not too extensive but St John's will be closed this weekend 17/18 June whilst the clean up takes place.

Services will take place this weekend as follows: Saturday Evening Vigil Mass at 6pm in the Parish Hall and Sunday Morning Mass at 11am in the Table Tennis Club next door.

Parishioners thank God no one was hurt and are extremely grateful for the work of the Fire Service in putting the fire out and stopping the fire spreading further. They are also touched by the kindness of the Table Tennis Club who have been willing to allow them access so they are able to celebrate Mass this Sunday.

St John the Baptist is an important church in the history of the Catholic Church in Sussex. It was the first Roman Catholic church built in Brighton after the process of Catholic Emancipation in the early 19th century removed restrictions on Catholic worship. Located on Bristol Road, a main road east of the city centre, it is one of 11 Catholic churches in Brighton and Hove.The Classical-style building, which was funded by Maria Fitzherbert and completed in 1835, It has been listed at Grade II* by English Heritage for its architectural and historical importance.

It was consecrated on 7 July 1835 and opened on 9 July 1835. Many of the 900 Catholic churches opened in England since the 1791 Roman Catholic Relief Act had not been consecrated by that stage, so St John the Baptist's was only the fourth new church to be consecrated in England since the Reformation in the 16th century.

Maria Fitzhebert a twice-widowed Catholic, began a relationship with the Prince Regent (and secretly married him in 1785 in a ceremony which was illegal according to the Act of Settlement 1701 and the Royal Marriages Act 1772). She accompanied the Prince Regent whenever he visited Brighton, and had her own house. Maria Fitzherbert died in 1837 and was buried at the church. A memorial stone and sculpture were placed in the nave.

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