St John the Evangelist Chapel, Chichester, West Sussex
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A rare surviving example of a Georgian evangelical 'preaching house'
Built in 1812, thedelightfully elegant design of St John's reflects the importance the evangelical movement placed on sermons and scripture reading rather than communion. Unusually, it was not built as a parish church, but was privately funded and then run by trustees of the evangelical movement of the Church of England. Ministers were largely paid by the income from renting seats in the chapel. Pews in the upper gallery, where the rich sat apart from the lower orders, still have their own hire numbers.
These originally had separate entrances so that the rich could enter by different doorways from the poor who sat on the benches below. The chapel is arranged rather like a theatre, with an impressive triple-decker pulpit with a handsome staircase and elegant handrail taking centre stage with only a small and insignificant chancel behind.
Standing high up in the pulpit, the preacher could be seen and heard by (and could himself see) everyone in the chapel. St John's has always been associated with lively musical events and the annual Chichester Festivities now hold a number of concerts in the chapel.
04 May 2019 - 04 May 2019
Shoreham Chamber Choir performing on their tour of Sussex Churches.
A simple and charming church next to a school house
A fascinating mix of old and new
Boggle-eyed monsters in a rustic church on the South Downs
Church is in an urban area and there is a level paved path from street to church. Two steps up into chapel then flat floor.
Facilities & Hire
Due to the historic nature of our buildings, only a very small number have heating, running water or toilet facilities. The lighting is usually operated via a 'push button' timer or a motion sensor.
In the centre of Chichester follow the St. John’s Church brown tourist signs from the junction of A286 Market Road and St. John’s Street. City Centre parking.
Nearest railway station: Chichester (0.5 miles).
History & Further Information
Why not make your visit more enjoyable and informed by finding out about this church before you visit? You can download a range of publications below including the relevant county guide, and any walk round guides we have for this churchHampshire, Sussex & Surrey County Guide 2012
This free of charge short guide contains details of all the churches we care for in Hampshire, Sussex & Surrey. Printed copies of the county guide are also available at the church.
The Friends of St John’s Chapel
The Friends of St John’s Chapel is a voluntary group that works in partnership with The Churches Conservation Trust to secure the future of the chapel by helping to maintain it, raise awareness of it and by looking for opportunities to promote and extend its use to a wider public. The Chapel is the focus for a wide range of cultural and arts events throughout the year, and is also one of the principal venues for the annual Festival of Chichester.
Other useful local links