What is now the Trinity Theatre, a well-respected theatrical hub for the area, was constructed as Holy Trinity Church in 1829. It was designed by Decimus Burton and was the main church for the town. Unfortunately for the building, by the 1960s there were falling congregation numbers and in 1972 the church was declared redundant. The Church Commissioners, who by all accounts were hardly pro-active in their efforts, left the building to dereliction and it was only due to pressure from the local community that funds were finally raised to re-open as a community theatre and arts centre in 1981.
Over its history, the church has been noted for some of its vicars, not least Edward Hoare who took over in 1853 and built quite a reputation for his sermons, remaining in post until his death in 1894. The vicar in 1907 also seems to have been quite innovative, as he installed phone lines which led from the pulpit to the pews to assist the hard of hearing amongst his congregation to hear the sermons.
Fortunately, the structure of the building has been saved.
Less fortunately, the graveyard has been mostly decimated and the gravestones shoved to the outside whilst picnic benches and car parking spaces have been left to take over the space that has been left. It doesn’t feel very dignified and I’m not sure it’s what the families of those who died would have liked. But, it seems better to have this than to have entirely lost the building.
And where there were once graves, there’s now a seat.