A landmark Brighton church was damaged in a fire this morning which may have started overnight.
Fire crews spent an hour tackling the fire at St Paul’s Church in West Street, Brighton, and ventilating the building once the fire was out.
Investigators from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service are looking into the cause.
Church warden John Burdett discovered the fire just before 9am today when he opened the building for workmen to lay new tiles.
Repainting and tiling work started there in mid October.
Four fire engines were sent from Preston Circus including one with an aerial ladder.
Mr Burdett said: “It’s fortunate that the damage is not more serious and fortunately it’s all been confined to a fairly small area.”
He said that the main damage was smoke damage, with the pulpit untouched although the grand piano near by was destroyed.
Watch Manager David Washington, from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The fire is believed to have been burning for some time before it was reported given the heavy smoke. The cause is being investigated.”
The landmark church has often been attended by prime ministers and party leaders during political conferences in Brighton.
It is also used by the Safe Space scheme to provide help to drunken clubbers on Friday and Saturday nights.
Safe Space said that its volunteers helped to look after the “vulnerable, injured or distressed often as a result of drinking too much or drug use”.