Croft Chapel

From Historical Hastings

This was the first 'Dissenting' place of worship established in the town.


Original Wooden Chapel

Owing to the stigma of being associated with the Independent or Seperatist religious movements it was impossible to get a builder to construct a chapel for the Congregational Church members in Hastings. In 1805 a piece of land in The Croft was given as a meeting site for these worshippers. A wooden ​building​ was paid for by a consortium of London 'dissenters', constructed in London and transported by sea to Hastings and constructed on the site at the junction of Croft Road and The Croft[1].


15 Dec 1684: Foffment Robert Phipps of Hastings, jurat and Thomas Carswell of same; shoemaker
17-18 May 1743: Lease and release Thomas Carswell of Hastings, gent, Anne Lucas (only dau and child of Robert Lucas of Hastings)
1 Nov 1800 Indenture said William Gill and Anne his wife (formerly Anne Carswell, dau of Thomas Carswell) 15 Aug 1810: Release y William Gill


Bath Stone ​building​

The chapel was reconstructed during 1876/77 by the firm of C. and E. Harman. The new ​building​ having been designed by the architect T. Elworthy of St. Leonards provided accommodation for a congregation of 450 adults - nearly double that of the previous structure. The structure was laid out over three floors, each floor lit by pairs of windows with circular windows on the top floor. Construction was of Bath Stone with pale yellow, pressed bricks providing contrast to the red kiln bricks used on the walls. A clock was fitted to the east side of the tower, this being donated by T. Elworthy. Five exits were provided to avoid crushing when the congregation either entered or exited the ​building​, irrespective of which floor they occupied.[2]


1808 1816 Richard Simmonds died 27 Dec 1816
1817 31 Aug 1817 Morley Clack died after a week on 31 Aug 1817
1819 1855 William Davis[3] Ordained 15th Sept 1819 (died 19th Jan 1855)[4][5]
1855 1857[4] George Stewart
1858/9 Ransom Cooper Left Suddenly (? scandal or disgrace)
1860 1862 Evan Berry[4]
1863 1873 Halley Stewart
1873 Charles R. Howell
1883 1884 W. C. Parks
1885 1889
1901 1903 George Botting
1904 J. Opie
1905 1907 R. V. Brown


The following is taken from the website 1066 Genealogy:-


Memorial number

0001 In memory of the Revd William Davis who was for 36 years Minister of the Croft Chapel, Hastings. He died Jan 19th 1855 in the 67th year of his age. "Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me"

0002 Sacred to the memory of Eliza Dee of Cambridge who departed this life 13 May 1839 on the 21 year of her Age - Beloved, Lamented

NB - Croft Burial Register gives age as 19 years.

0003 Sacred to the memory of William Kent Simpson of Bury St. Edmunds who died at Hastings October 30 1852 aged 27 years

NB - Croft Burial Register gives age as 25 years

0004 In memory of Matilda Sarah daughter of John & Matilda Reeves, died April 26th 1853, Aged 3 years 10 months.

0005 Sacred to the memory of Margaret Haig who died at Hastings 20 May 1833 aged 38 years. "I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness"

0006 Sacred/ to the memory of/ John Michael son of J.M.Vos: Esq. (of Calcutta)/ born at Clapham June 8th 1816 died at Hastings July 26th 1833

0007 Sacred to the memory of Mary the beloved wife of John Nichols who died November 20 1849 aged 76 years. "I know whom I have believed" Tim.1.2v. Also of Maria her daughter the beloved wife of John Benjamin Moor who departed this life April 11 1850 Aged 53 years

Italics No trust in self, on firmer ground, she stood Her hope was founded on a saviou`s blood A sinner saved who in deaths trying hour Did cast her soul on Jesus` love and power And now with myriads of the ransom`d race Ascribes her bliss to free and sovereign grace Is such her happy lot, should we complain Our loss tho` great is her eternal gain

Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of the saints. 116 Psalm 15 v.

0008 In memory of Sarah Ashby who departed this life 30th October 1848 aged 21 years. "Looking unto Jesus"

NB - Croft Burial Register gives age as 24 years

0009 Sacred to the memory of Ann H Place aged 11 years and William H Place aged 16 years. The former died on the 13th and the latter on the 16th of July 1848. They were lovely and pleasant in their lives and in their death they were not divided

0010 ..... Memory of J Wm Bumstead who died July 28th 1847 aged 10 years "Prepare to meet thy God". Also of George Bumstead (father of the above) who died March 3rd 1853 aged 54 years. Kind angels guard his sleeping dust Till Jesus come to judge the just May he awake with great surprise And in his Saviours glory rise

Also of Hannah Bumstead died December 20th 1853. She sweetly sleeps in Jesus. Aged 1[3/5] years

0011 John Duguid Johnston died 16th June 1847 Aged 34

0012 Sacred to the memory of John Ray Burgess who died 5th June 1847 aged 34 years. "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found"

NB - Croft Burial Register gives the age as 31 years

0013 A.E.Merriman/ died/ Jan 3rd 1853/ Aged 67

NB - Croft Burial Register gives the full name of Harriett Eliza Merriman

0014 Sacred to the memory of William Temple a native of Camphouse Roxboroughshire, Scotland who died in this town on the 29th day of January 1847 aged 33 years. This stone was erected by his surviving brothers and sisters, A.D.1848.

0015 Sacred to the memory of Eleanor wife of Charles Ebeling of Paris who departed this life Sep 30th 1820 aged 66 years. Also her daughter Elizth Wooley died 28th Jan 1836 aged 47 years

0016 Sacred to the memory of Mary Ann Lord daughter of William and Mary Ann Lord who departed this life .... aged 11 years. Suffer the little children to come unto me, For of such is the Kingdom of God

0017 Sacred to the Memory of Thomas Morton who died December 6th 1838 aged 38 years. Also Louisa Hannah his daughter who died January ... 1838 aged 3 years & 6 months. "By Grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourselfs, it is the gift of God"

0018 On the Curve Also James Richard Francis son of the above William Francis died with a good hope through grace the 22 January 1831 aged 20 years

Capitals At the foot of this grave lies William the first born son of Edmund and Marth Trulock-Strickland who was born Nov 29th 1830 and died Jan 7th 1831 "Of such is the Kingdom of God"

NB - Croft Burial Register states James Richard Francis Died at Bourtin, Gloucestershire.

0019 Sacred to the memory of Mr William Francis late of London who died at Hastings 23rd Jany 1826 in the 41st year of his age. He lived believing in his Redeemer, His character through life corresponded with his faith and he expired with the glorious hope of a blissful immortality; His God sustained him in his final hour. His final hour brought glory to God. He died exclaiming Victory, Victory through the blood of the Lamb. Also Rebecca, daughter of the above who having fled for refuge to the hope set before her in the Gospel died July 7th 1829 aged 13 years.

NB - Croft Burial Register states that "Late of Oxford Street, London

0020 In memory of Elizabeth Weekes, daughter of Edward and Rebecca Weekes who departed this life 25th Jany 1823 aged 30 years "Tis finished; on this my soul rely As Jesus lives his chosen cannot die" Also Edmond Weekes son of Edward and Rebecca Weekes who departed this life 25th Aug 1835 aged 28 years

NB - Croft Burial Register describes Edmund Weekes from "Town Malling, Kent"

0021 Erected to the memory of Elizabeth the wife of I Williams Sen, who departed this life Sepr 16th 1819 aged 78 years. "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord" Also John Williams, Gent, many years a Jurat of this Corporation who departed this life February 12th 1834 aged 87 years. Also Mary Ann Williams Granddaughter of the above who died May 10th 1840 aged 3 years..

NB - Croft Burial Register states Elizabeth as aged 79

0022 Erected to the memory of Mary the wife of Rd Sinnock who departed this life August 24th 1817 Aged 77 years. "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord"

NB - Croft Burial Register describes Elizabeth Sinnock of Battle, Sussex.

0023 Hannah Marshall died September 19th 1852 Aged 75 years

0024 In memory of Abraham Wood who died 6 Nov 1845 aged 53 years

0025 In memory of Phillis wife of the Revd James Johnson; Wesleyan Minister who died January 18th 1829 aged 49 years. "The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance"

0026 Sacred to the memory of James Martineau Lee of Norwich who departed this life on the 29th of Jan 1828 aged 25 years.

0027 Sacred to the memory of John Kinder the beloved son of Robert & Eliza Kinder who died at Hastings February 23rd 1834 aged 20 years.

0028 Sacred to the memory of David Martineau who departed this life 23rd January 1836 aged 47

NB - Croft Burial Register states he was from St. Leonards

0029 Sacred to the memory of Samuel second son of William and Fanny Smith of Goswell Road, London who died 11th January 1823 in the 26th year of his age

0030 In memory of Mr Philip Chapman who died April 9th 1840 aged 73 years

NB - Croft Burial Register states he was from St. Leonards

0031 Sacred to the memory of Eliza the wife of William Mason who died April 13th 1842 aged 32 years

0032 Isabella Jane Brown only daughter of Major Dennistoun Brown died 2nd November 1828 aged 16 months. Three months after her elder sister Agnes


"Two sweet and lovely blossoms
destined early to fade that
they might bloom through
redeeming love in unfading beauty
"The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the

NB - Croft Burial Register states from Edinburgh, died at Hastings.

IN01 In Remembrance of/ The Revd John Morley Clack/ who was ordained to the pastoral charge of this/ congregation 21st Augt 1817 which charge he resigned/ with his Life on the 31st of the same month/ Aged 23 years/ His sun went down while it was yet day/ But it was evident to all who knew him/ That he was prepaired to relinquish his/ Work and enter on his rest/ As soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished he departed to his own house - Luke i.23

IN02 In Memory of/ The Revd Richard Simmons/ who after the faithful discharge of his ministry/ for eight years in this place, was received to the/ enjoyment of his reward 27th Dec 1816/ By this record the dead now speaketh/ Rom xv.19 I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ/ By which also ye are saved if ye keep in memory/ what I preached unto you. 1 Corin xv.2.

IN03 Sacred/ to the Memory of/ Margaret Haig/ who died at Hastings 20th May 1833/

Aged 38 years/

The race appointed I have run
The combats o`er, the prize is won
And now my witness is on high
And now my record`s in the sky
Not in mine innocence I trust
I bow before thee in the dust
And through my saviours blood alone
I look for mercy at thy throne

Photography Studio

After the chapel fell into disuse, a local photographer, G. Ivan Barnett utilised the ​building​, both as a photography studio and also as a set for 'The Fall of the House of Usher' for which he was the principle cinematographer.


The ​building​ was finally demolished in 1972 and private housing now occupies the site.[6]


References & Notes

  1. Hastings Survey of Times Past and Present (Anthony Belt F.L.S.) 1937 pg.144 ESCC Library
  2. Hastings & St Leonards Observer 05 May 1877 pg. 6
  3. Brett Manuscript Histories Vol. 3 Chap.40
  4. a b c 1066 Genealogy, accessdate: 18 December 2020
  5. Brett Manuscript Histories Vol. 5 Chap. 54
  6. Family