On entering the church there is a feeling of relaxation and restfulness. The soaring shape of the unusual arches combines loftiness with lightness.
Everything above speaks of light and strength, while all around speaks of the sea - the boat pulpit and the ship’s binnacle of course, but also the blue-green-grey of the stone mounted with a wave-like cornice.
In the marble floor of the sanctuary are representations of a dozen kinds of fish found round the Hastings coast, linking the church firmly with the town’s traditional industries. Beyond the communion rail are loaves and fishes set in different marble patterns bordered by scallop shells, a copy of the Byzantine mosaic in the Church of the Feeding of the Five Thousand in Galilee.
The modern stained-glass windows, rich with symbolism, are by Patrick Reyntiens, whose work includes the baptistery window in Coventry Cathedral. The 19 panels depict biblical characters - ‘not what they looked like, which we don’t know,’ explained Reyntiens, but their character.’ There are eight from the Old Testament on the west side and eight from the New Testament on the east side. The chancel window crowns all the others, with three panels depicting the Transfiguration.
The font was carved from a solid piece of English elm by the sculptor John Reid. It took two years to complete, with fine carvings of biblical characters and above them the New Jerusalem. Another block of elm was used for the cover, with carvings depicting the Lamb on Mount Zion and the River of the water of life, flowing from the Throne down the city streets.
High in the tower is a large illuminated cross which can be seen for miles out to sea and which is a friendly landmark to passing ships and the fishing fleet.
In the 1970s an area at the back of the church was converted into the Oak Room. It is well used for a variety of activities as well as being a welcoming place where fellowship and refreshment are offered to visitors from this country and overseas.
St Leonard’s has been called the church with an inbuilt message. Even the very stones cry out to those who have eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand and accept the Good News of the Gospel.
What is of greater significance, however, than the building itself are the people who make up the Body of Christ in this place, a ‘family’ of all ages, coming together to worship the Lord, to grow in discipleship, to strengthen and encourage one another and to go out into the world as Christ’s servants.