The font at St Nicholas of Myra church in Brighton

The church of St Nicholas of Myra lies in the heart of Brighton, just up from Churchill Square at the bottom of Dyke Road. It would have been a stroll from the dwellings of the town in medieval and early modern times. But now Brighton has spread up the hill to engulf it.

Most of the current building we know has 14th century origins with substantial 19th century reworking. A church at Brighthelmstone is mentioned in the 1087 Domesday book but was that the church we now know as St Nick’s? Maybe Brighton had a church right down on the beach just like Worthing did in the same period. It seems likely that the spot had been a site of pre-Christian worship. (Don’t forget that the Gospel came late to Sussex.)

The exquisite font, however, is easy to date and the origins are verifiable. It’s made from a single block of caen stone and dates from approximately 1170. The four panels depict religious scenes. You can easily pick out the Last Supper and Christ’s baptism. The the other panels probably depict scenes from the life of St Nicholas.

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