St Nicolas Church, South Street, Portslade BN41 2LE
St Nicolas Church, South Street, in Portslade's 'Old Village', is one of the oldest in the City of Brighton & Hove, and has the distinction of being the only church that has been consistently used for worship throughout its 850 year history.
St Nicolas Church, can be found by turning north at the Southern Cross traffic lights on the Old Shoreham Road (A270) and via Locks Hill to South Street. St Nicolas has a car park at the Parish Centre next to the Church.
There is a bus stop opposite St Nicolas Church served by Brighton & Hove Buses routes 1 and 1A . These routes connect Portslade and Mile Oak with all parts of the City, across to Whitehawk at the eastern end of the route.
Please click on the link for bus times:
St Nicolas Church, Portslade is the second oldest church in the City and has the distinction of being the only church that has been consistently used for worship throughout its 850 year history.
At various times throughout history since 1523, St Helen’s was held by the Vicar of Portslade as one of two livings. From 1864 to 1955 the two parishes were united by Order of Council. In the 1870's, the children from both Portslade and Hangleton were educated at the Brakenbury School (St Nicolas Church School) in Locks Hill which was built for the poor of the united parishes of Portslade and Hangleton.
In the1950's a massive house building programme was undertaken in Hangleton and once again St Helen Church became the Parish Church of Hangleton and was no longer united with St Nicolas Portslade in a single parish.
About 900 years ago, the people of Portslade decided to build their own church. It was a little Norman church situated on a hill on the eastern side of the Old Village, overlooking the Channel. It became a landmark to sailors and was appropriately dedicated to St Nicolas, Patron Saint of Sailors.
Sedilia and Piscina
The seats in the sedilia were designed for the use of the Celebrant and his Assistants at Mass and the piscina is a stone dish with basin used for the ablutions at Mass, a ceremony when the Priest washes his hands, after the offertory (very necessary centuries ago when the faithful offered goods or poultry instead of money) and the used water is drained from the piscina to the ground. There are two fine lancet windows at the east end, good examples of 13th Century architecture.
The Calendar of Charter Rolls of 1312, now held in London, shows that the Lord of the Manor of Portslade, John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, was granted a charter by King Edward II to hold a Fair at Portslade annually on the 6th December, The Feast Day of Saint Nicolas.
Early records show that in the 12th century, St Nicolas Church was paying a tithe of 40s to the Priory of St Pancras at Lewes, the first Clunic House to be built in England. The petition below, from the Priory to St Peters, Rome requested that tithes should also be collected in the 13th century .
The Calendar of Papal Registers "Lateran Regista" records a letter received in St Peters, Rome on the 7th September 1401 from John Oke the Prior of St Pancras. :-"dated in the chapter-house of Lewes 26 Nov. 1400, which recapitaulate and confirm the grant by his predecessors as pittance to the sub-prior and convent of the following: all the fruits etc. of the churches-appropriate to the monastery by papal authority, portions for vicarages being alone excepted" the papal letter goes on to list the tithes required from 20 churches in the south of England, Portslade is named and was required to pay 20 shillings a year to the Priory.
Doom Paintings depict:- "The Day of Judgement"
See below the 1847 article entitled:- "Ancient Mural Painting in Portslade Church" for more information.
Clayton is 6 miles to the north and Coombes, is 6 miles to the west of Portslade. A traveller in medieval times walking from Clayton would have passed through Portslade via the Roman Road "Port's Road" to reach Coombes. During St Nicolas' association with the Priory, the Parish would have been subjected to many visits by the monks for assessment and collection of tithes. St Nicolas' Last Judgement Painting has a similar overall composition and the same posture of "Christ Enthroned", surrounded by the Apostles and Virgin Mary as in the Clayton paintings. At St Nicolas there was also evidence of an earlier wall painting under the "Last Judgement" fresco, another painting that could be distinguished on the south wall was the "Adoration of the Magi".
Unfortunately we do not know how representative the above drawing was to the actual St. Nicolas "Doom Paintings", the fresco's were not subjected to detailed scientific investigation before they were lime washed over in 1847, to establish if their style and age was contemporary to the "Lewes Group".
The origins of the Doom Paintings at St Nicolas Church will probably remain a mystery
THE OLD BOYS OF THE PORTSLADE INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL 1914-1918
(All the listed names in St Nicolas Church, are also commemorated on the Portslade War Memorial in Easthill Park, Portslade)
Vicars, Curates and Deacons of St Nicolas Church, Portslade.
1415 Thomas Legger
1415 John Westcote
1419 Thomas Devonshire
1420 Henry Tone
1444 Thomas Thakes
1444 John Dovere
1499 Henry Kentte
1499 John Galthe
1505 John Holforde
1510 Robert Gaston
1526 Henry Honeby, & Rector of St Helen Hangleton, 1523.
Richard Hide. Curate, 1551.
1556 John Lowghe
1562 John Englisshe
1584 Henry Englisshe, & Rector of Aldrington, 1584.
1586 Robert Johnnes M.A.
1598 John Postlethwait A.B. & Rector of St Julian Kingston Buci, Shoreham by Sea, 1605.
1607 John Bridge A.M. & Rector of St Helen Hangleton, 1613.
1636 Thomas White
1638 Nathaniel Hancock A.M. & Rector of St Michael & All Angels Southwick, 1643.
1662 Robert Adams
1669 John Temple, & Rector of St Helen Hangleton, 1660.
1710 John Littlejohn
1722 Ralph Clutton & Rector of St Giles Horsted Keynes
John Osborne. Curate, 1742.
Charles Baker. Curate, 1743.
1761 John Clutton B.A. & Rector of, St Helen Hangleton, St Giles Horsted Keynes & Aldrington,
John Constable Curate, 1803
1815 Henry Hoper M.A. & Rector of St Helen Hangleton
Thomas Scutt. Curate, 1815.
Gilbert Henry Langdon. Curate, 1830.
J. W. Peers. Assistant Curate 1841.
John Willoughby Hodgson, Curate 1852-1858.
1859 Frederick G.Holbrooke, & Rector of St Helen & Priest in Charge of St Andrew Portslade.
1864 St Andrew Church, Portslade by Sea, is built under the direction of the Revd Holbrooke who becomes Priest in Charge of this new District Church.
1864 St. Nicolas Portslade & St Helen Hangleton united into one Parish by Order in Council
1876 The separate Parish of St Andrew is formed and no longer united with St Nicolas Portslade
1880 Charles A.Stevens M.A. & Rector of St Helen Hangleton
1899 Vicars Armstrong Boyle M.A. B.C.L. & Rector of St Helen Hangleton
William James, Curate 1917.
St Nicolas c1900
1927 Lubin S.Creasey M.A. & Rector of St Helen Hangleton
1928 Noel E.C.Hemsworth M.A. & Rector of St Helen Hangleton
1933 Ernest P.W.Holmes M.A. & Rector of St Helen Hangleton
1936 The Parish of St Nicolas , erect a temporary "Tin Church" at Mile Oak to cope with the increase in population, this new church is called the Church of the Good Shepherd, Mile Oak, the “Tin Church” was kindly donated to the Parish by The Church of the Good Shepherd, Dyke Road, Brighton.
1948 Ronald F.G.Adams A.K.C. & Rector of St Helen Hangleton
Peter Bide, Curate 1949-1955.
1955 St Helen Hangleton becomes a separate Parish and no longer united with St Nicolas Portslade, St Nicolas Church's Curate Peter Bide is appointed Rector of St Helens.
1962 Victor R.D.Hellaby T.D.
Kenneth Bradshaw, Curate 1965-1967.
1967 a new church is built and dedicated at Mile Oak to replace the temporary "Tin Church". Mile Oak becomes a conventional district. In 1994 Parochial Status is granted and The Church of the Good Shepherd is formally consecrated into the Parish Church of Mile Oak, Portslade
Peter Brooks, Curate, 1983-1986.
Graham Whiting, Curate, 1987-1988.
1987 St Nicolas Church united with St Andrew's Church to form The Parish of St Nicolas & St Andrew.
1987 Richard H. Rushforth M.A., Vicar of the Parish of St Nicolas & St Andrew Portslade.
2013 St Nicolas Church and St Andrew Church united with The Good Shepherd Mile Oak to form the new Parish of Portslade St Nicolas and St Andrew and Mile Oak The Good Shepherd.
2013-17 Andrew J. Perry, Vicar of the Parish of Portslade & Mile Oak.
Peter Pannett, Distinctive Deacon, 2013-2014.
David Swyer, Associate Priest, 1st November 2016 - present
Andrew Birks, Ordained Deacon at St Nicolas on 3rd December 2016 and ordained Priest at St Bartholomew's Brighton on 10th June 2017. Currently serving as Assistant Curate.
1989 Bishop of Chichester
For a more complete history of St Nicolas Church see the Hove and Portslade in the Past website
Published in The Sussex Archaeological Collection 1847
|The 1847 illustration by Miss Gorring|
Brakenbury Chapel on the north west corner of St Nicolas Church, Portslade.
The following, is an abbreviation of an article which appeared in both the Brighton Gazette and the Manchester Guardian, March 13, 1873:-
Early in the 1800’s Mr James B. Brackenbury moved to Manchester to practise as a solicitor, he was the legal advisor of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company at its formation, and he made a large fortune in the early days of the railways.
The funeral procession, which consisted of five mourning coaches, each drawn by four horses and the private carriage of the deceased, left Adelaide Crescent,Hove at 11 o’clock, arriving at Portslade shortly after 12. Among the mourners were the Very Rev. Dr Robert Scott, the Dean of Rochester and the Rev. Professor Jowett, Master of Balliol College, Oxford. The church was filled by the villagers and those from adjacent parishes; and the burial service was impressively read by the Rev. F.G. Holbrooke, Vicar of Portslade; the psalms included in the service being chanted by the boys of the choir, Mr Machonochie presiding at the organ.
The chapel is situated to the north of the ivy clad tower, and by its appearance showed that no expense was spared to make it as complete as possible in every particular. It is separated from the church proper by a small parapet, iron railings, and is lighted on two sides by stained glass windows. Running round the chapel walls is the following inscription: - “within these walls are deposited the remains of the last in lineal descent of the ancient family of Brackenbury, of Denton and Sellaby, in the county of Durham, and immediately under one of the memorial windows is the text, “They also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”
Hannah Brakenbury, Born November 17th 1795, Died at Hove: February 28th 1873
possessed of great wealth, she devoted much during her life, and after by bequest to objects of beneficence.
She thus prayed,
Lord remember me when thou comest to thy Kingdom",
St Luke 23.42.
Hannah Brakenbury donated the land and financed the building of the Brakenbury School in Portslade, later to be renamed St Nicolas School.
The Will of Miss Brackenbury
The raising of the daughter of Jairus,
*(£1 in 1873 has the spending power of £58 today, '1873 value of the pound' from a House of Commons Research Paper 99/20').
The number of lives she affected for “the good” must run into hundreds of thousands in her lifetime and even today her legacy continues through the present day Universities, Schools, and Hospitals she originally funded.]
At Balliol College (Oxford University) Hannah is remembered as a major benefactor of the College. Hannah Brackenbury’s coats of arms appear in several places on the buildings she paid for.
In September 2005, Durham University built two new residences for post-graduate students, one of which was named Brackenbury House, in memory of one of the University’s earliest philanthropists. Hannah Brackenbury endowed a series of professorships at the University in Mathematics, Medicine and Science.