St Richards in Winchelsea Beach
The Church that started in a garage
Suspension of Regular Services
Because of the uncertainty of the future of St Richard’s Church there are no services taking place at present. It is possible that some services may take place next year and this page will be updated accordingly. Do contact the Rector for further information.
We are still holding Mother’s Prayers in St Richard’s room on the 1st Tuesday of each month at 10:00am.
Dawn Service – Easter Day – 17th April 5:45am
There will be a Eucharist on the Beach near to Smeaton’s Harbour to celebrate the first Communion of Easter – It will take place in the church if wet and a light breakfast will be served in St Richard’s room after the service.
Unfortunately due to financial pressures the future of our church at Winchelsea beach is in doubt.
In recent years the congregation at St Richard has dwindled and now numbers around six regular worshippers. It is a statutory obligation for us to carry out a full architectural survey on the church every five years (The Quinquennial). Following the most recent report it has emerged that we would need to find between £50,000 and £100,000 to carry out the necessary work. In addition to that there are underlying structural problems relating to the foundations which are likely to continue to cause problems. Bearing all this in mind the PCC have reluctantly voted unanimously to proceed with the proposed closure of the church. A public meeting was held at the Winchelsea beach community Hall on 27 October 2021. Notes from the meeting and a more recent update can be found by clicking here.
At this stage we are still considering the options and any developments will be published on our website, on the Winchelsea town website and anywhere else that is helpful or appropriate.
We may need to re-inter some cremated remains that were incorrectly buried in the surroundings of the church. This will require legal permissions from the Diocese and if necessary will be carried out with appropriate sensitivity. If you know of any relatives of those whose remains are buried at St. Richard’s, please contact the Rector, The Rev’d Jonathan Meyer email@example.com
The PCC and the Rector are committed to maintaining a Christian presence within Winchelsea beach and it is likely that regular services of some kind will be held in another venue. If you would like to discuss this matter please do feel free to contact the Rector firstname.lastname@example.org
It was the sale of agricultural land for housing after the First World War that created the community of Winchelsea Beach.
Seeking a place at the sea, some bought plots and built bungalows while others imported old railway carriages. By the 1930s there were enough residents to encourage local Christians to think about creating a place of worship.
Parts of Winchelsea Beach were in Rye Harbour parish and parts in the parish of Pett, and it was Pett that took the initiative, buying a row of lock-up garages in Dogs Hill Road and converting them into a chapel. Art students from Hastings decorated it, embroidery was designed, a bell hung and an altar made from a concrete slab. It was dedicated to the diocesan patron saint, Richard of Chichester, and services began in the summer of 1935.
Services at Winchelsea Beach ceased with the wartime evacuation and resumed in 1949, although it was not until Miss C M Biddle became Missioner in Charge in 1955 that all was put on a firmer footing.
The war-damaged chapel, though patched up, was too damp to use in the winter and services were transferred to her house. She was the driving force behind the campaign to raise the funds to buy a new plot of land and build a proper church.
Designed by Duncan Wylson of Rye and built by Padden and Durrant, the new St Richard’s opened in 1962. The original concrete altar was brought from the lock-up garages and an organ from Rochester Cathedral. Rye Harbour parish was not entirely happy with Pett’s claim on the Beach, and a low level dispute rumbled on until 1966 when it was agreed to redraw parish boundaries and combine Winchelsea Beach with Winchelsea, recognising the role that Winchelsea had taken in supporting the building of the new church.