The Countess of Huntingdon’s Church: a changing face in North Street

Countess of Huntingdon's Church, North Street, after 1871
Countess of Huntingdon’s Church, North Street, after 1871

141 years ago today,  the newly rebuilt Countess of Huntingdon’s Church opened in North Street. This photograph, taken shortly after it reopened in 1871,  shows how it dominated the view south from New Road.

The church was originally founded as a small chapel in 1761 by Selina Shirley, the Countess of Huntingdon. Funded by the sale of her jewellery, the chapel attracted numerous followers and was enlarged several times over the next 50 years. By the 1840s, the building featured a neoclassical facade with Ionian columns. Architecturally, it was similar to the nearby Unitarian Church in New Road.

Countess of Huntingdon's Church, North Street, c1869

In 1870 the church was completely rebuilt by John Wimble in flint and grey stone. The church reopened in March 1871 and was initially popular. Its congregation declined during the 20th century, however, and it closed in 1966. The spire was dismantled in 1969 and the remainder of the building was demolished in March 1972. Prior to demolition, the Borough Surveyor’s department took several photographs of the interior of the building. These are now held in the Royal Pavilion and Museums’ collections, and can be viewed on our Image Store.

Interior of Countess of Huntingdon's Church, 1969
Interior of Countess of Huntingdon’s Church, 1969

Kevin Bacon
Digital Development Officer

5 Responses

  1. mary mckean

    This is really interesting. So many of Brighton’s churches are currently at risk because the funds do not exist to maintain them – and it is so easy for them to disappear without trace as this has done – even in, or perhaps especially in, such central locations. We urgently need to find credible new uses for such buildings. Oran Mor in Glasgow ( is a really imaginative example of what can be done where there is a will and imagination.

  2. Lyn Horsburgh

    My grandparents Henry Arthur Waller and Bertha Hotton were married in the Countess of Huntingdon church in 1912. I remember my father telling me his parents had been married there. I moved away from Brighton in 1972 and am now trying to find my ancestors and found this entry for your website. I never knew it had been demolished. So sad to see yet another lovely old building fell foul of the developers !

    • Julia Hotton

      Hello Lyn,
      I have just seen your post and thought you would like to know that my husband’s grandfather Frank Hotton was your grandmother’s brother. If you would like any further information about the Hotton side of your family, please contact me.

  3. Jenny Bond (nee Lister)

    I would be very interested to know if anyone has any knowledge of my grandfather, Rev William Seymour Lister who was the minister of the Countess of Huntington Church in North Street Brighton for a short while. Due to ill health he was unable to carry out his ministry as he would have wished and he died aged 39 one hundred years ago this month on 4th January 1918. We have always believed he had TB but don’t really know if this is correct or not.
    His funeral service was conducted by Bishop Eldridge and he was buried in the Extra-Mural Cemetery.

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