Connexion in Brighton 1761
The first of the Connexion churches was founded in North Street, Brighton in 1761.
The Countess bought a house in North Street, Brighton in 1755, and added a small, private chapel to the grounds. Her reason for coming to Brighton was that she hoped the sea air would be beneficial to her son, who was suffering from ill health, but sadly, both of her sons died from smallpox.
The early church 1761
Returning to Brighton in 1760, the Countess invited Rev George Whitfield, a well-known Methodist leader, to preach. And as popularity for the ‘new faith’ increased, she opened her private chapel to the public in 1761.
Over the coming years, the congregation continued to grow and the chapel was enlarged many times. In 1822, to accommodate further growth, her former residence was converted into a long gallery with a Doric entrance on North Street.
The church rebuild 1871
In 1870-1 the church was entirely rebuilt in flint and grey stone by John Wimble, having a triple-arched entrance and a tall, graceful spire. The interior had stained glass windows, a marble pulpit and galleries on all sides, with space for 900 congregation members.
The church opened on 20 March 1871 and was initially very well attended. Over time, however, congregation numbers began to dwindle, making it difficult to raise funds necessary to keep the building in good repair. The church closed its doors in September 1966 and the spire, which became a safety hazard was taken down in November 1969. The North Street church was finally demolished in February 1972, which is a great shame, and has since been replaced by office blocks and shops.
Selina Shirley, who became The Countess of Huntingdon, was born on 24th August 1707. She founded the Connexion following her conversion in 1738, beginning a legacy of gospel influence that continues today in 22 churches. She faced innumerable challenges throughout her life and retained a personal interest in every one of her chapels until her death. She died in London on 17 June 1791, aged 83.
Sources for information and images include: My Brighton and Hove
Read more about The Countess of Huntingdon’s life and works: The Elect Lady
The photograph of the church's interior was taken before its demolition in 1972
The support we give to our UK churches is to enable them to flourish and continue The Countess of Huntingdon’s mission. This includes funds to preserve church buildings, sponsored theological education, trips to Sierra Leone communities, financial and legal assistance for our chapels, resources and pastoral support for our ministers. With limited funds, we rely on donations to fulfil our purpose. If you are able to help by making a gift or regular donation, we'd be very thankful. To make a contribution, please click on Donations