Holy Nativity Church Norwich Drive, BevendeanBuilding the New Church
In October 1961 the Chichester Diocesan authorities applied to buy the site on the corner of Norwich Drive and Heath Hill Avenue, Lower Bevendean, for the building of an Anglican church. This like the Barn Church would be a daughter church of St Andrew's in the Parish of Moulsecoomb.
By June 1962 the plans for the new church had been drawn up although they had to be modified due to the high cost of preparing the site for the buildings.
In the two little barns which formed the Old Barn Church the congregation had raised £5,000. With Diocesan help they were able to go ahead with the new church and priest’s house in 1963.
The Architect Mr Reginald Melhuish produced a new design, which had seating accommodation for 150. The building was built in brick, mottled knapped-flint and cobbles with 40ft. beams of polished timber for the slanted roof. The emphasis in his design was to give a new and spacious look to the traditional church style.
The foundation stone of the Holy Nativity Church was laid on the 8th September 1964. The text reads,
“TO THE GLORY OF GOD, THE ARCHDEACON OF LEWES LAID THIS STONE ON THE FEAST OF NATIVITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY 1963. ARCHITECT REGINALD MELHUISH ARIBA HORSHAM. CONTRACTOR KEITH ANDREW LTD, WORTHING”.
Procession for the dedication of the Holy Nativity Church on the 30th May 1964. The man carrying the Cross is Paddy Seaman, a church warden. The boy nearest the camera is Chris Hawkes, the other boy is Dibby Jones. The Vicar nearest the camera is Fr. Jack Money from St Andrews at moulsecoomb, the other Vicar is Fr. Kenneth Chapman the Vicar of Bevendean. Fr. Tony Pannett is just coming round the Corner, behind the Bishop. The Bishop is the Rev Roger Wilson, in front of him is the Archdeacon.
Bishop Dedicates the New Church
Nearly two hundred people, including many young ones, crowded into Lower Bevendean’s exciting new Holy Nativity Church on Saturday afternoon (30 May 1964) and heard the Bishop of Chichester, Dr. Roger Wilson, say: “I would like to hold this up as an example to the whole diocese for many other centres of new population.”
Dedicating the church, Dr. Wilson said: “There was never any money and there never was any chance of getting on any building programme. Here is a lovely building, which has been built relatively cheaply.”
Remarking that the adjoining vicarage had been built by members of the church, the Bishop said a new community needed the help of the Church, and anyone was welcome there. “Prosperity does not provide an answer to everything,” said Dr Wilson, adding that the Church provided a balance in face of the insecurity of family life and the anxieties of modern existence. It also provided a refuge for lonely newcomers.
“May you continue the good work you have begun for those who come after you,” the Bishop concluded.
Earlier, in brilliant sunshine, the Bishop headed a colourful procession of priests, which included the Archdeacon of Lewes as well as the Vicar, the Rev K. G. Chapman. The Bishop knocked at the church door three times with his staff.
As the procession entered the church, sunshine filtered through the specially imported Belgian blue glass, passing the simple copper font and resting on the single slab altar. As the Bishop pronounced his dedication, two circular lamps, flanked by hidden fluorescent tubes, shone down on the altar made of polished concrete with a base of Welsh slate.
The Church Hall
The Lower Bevendean Church Hall was built in 1966.
A harvest supper held in September 1966 was the first social in the new hall and was very successful.
In October 1966 work was undertaken to lay a Car Park which was completed in March 1968.
The Last 10 years
The church congregation gradually dwindled, as with many churches and sadly the decision was made to close the church in 2006.
The Final Sunday Service
On the Epiphany of our Lord in 2007 the final Sunday service was conducted by Rev Tony Pannett at 4pm.
The notes in the register said: Last Sunday service; 42½ years of spiritual life of Sunday services ended.
In 2011 plans were drawn up for the conversion of the Holy Nativity church to form a base for the community called the Holy Nativity Community Project.
The church has been converted to a hall, so that there are now two halls available for community use on the site.
In January 2017 the parish was told that the church was still open as the paper work to close the church was never completed in 2007.