The present parishes of Hove and Preston had been united as a single benefice, Hove-cum-Preston, since 1531. St Andrew’s Church, of Saxon origin but rebuilt from a near-derelict state in 1836 in response to the area’s growing population, had served as Hove-cum-Preston’s parish church. When the parish was separated into two new areas serving Hove and Preston respectively in 1879, St Andrew’s status was changed to that of parish church of Hove. However, when Revd Thomas Peacey was appointed the first vicar of Hove in the same year, he immediately showed his intention of replacing it with a new, more impressive church by selecting the prominent ecclesiastical architect John Loughborough Pearson to submit a design.
Construction did not begin until 1889, with the first stone being laid on 25 April 1889; during the 1880s, Pearson had been working on various projects, including the vicarage (on the same plot of land) and the nearby St Barnabas Church. The church was built, opened and consecrated in stages: the nave and side aisles, forming the core of the present building and costing £14,000, were opened in 1891 after a consecration ceremony by the Bishop of Chichester (Richard Durnford, who personally gave £1,000 towards the cost of the church) on 1 May 1891; the eastern end was not finished until 1901, four years after Pearson’s death. Its completion was overseen by his son, and the new Bishop of Chichester, Ernest Roland Wilberforce consecrated it on 1 November 1901. An incomplete tower on the southwestern side, and an adjacent narthex, were provided in 1924. The tower has never been finished, although its interior does feature a statue of Revd Peacey holding a model of the church.
By this time, £40,000 had been spent on construction. All Saints became the parish church of Hove in 1892, replacing St Andrew’s. It also serves the smaller Parish of Hove All Saints, which includes the former church of St Thomas the Apostlw, which was declared redundant in 1993 and is now the Coptic Orthodox church of St Mary and St Abraam.
The area covered by the parish of Hove All Saints covers most of eastern Hove to the border with Brighton, stretches from the seafront to the A270 Old Shoreham Road and is one of the most populous parishes in the Chichester diocese.All Saints is an imposing church,one of the largest of the 19th century Gothic revival, and bears some resemblance to one of John Loughborough Pearson’s largest ecclesiastical projects, Truro Cathedral. Pearson used local sandstone for the exterior, in contrast to the knapped flintwork and red brick decoration of his other Hove church, St Barnabas; and the predominant architectural style, the Early English Decorated style, is also markedly different from his other major churches, mostly in the London area. The interior is also of stone, usually only seen in the grandest of mediaeval buildings, and the great roof is constructed of Sussex oak. The narthex at the western end leads through to a very wide nave with aisles and tall arcades on both sides (likened by Pevsner to those of Exeter Cathedral) and a chancel with side chapels. One of these is separated from the body of the church by a canopied screen of great richness carved in wood, dedicated to people from the parish killed in the First World War. The church is dominated by a stone reredos carved by Nathaniel Hitch and installed in 1908. Pearson used a clever conceit in the design of the church to produce a visual concentration on the reredos, and the east end of the church was described by the architect Harry Stuart Goodhart-Rendel as nearly perfect as can be.
Other internal fixtures include oak choir stalls and canopies designed by Frank Loughborough Pearson in memory of Thomas Peacey, a stone pulpit and red marble seven sided font. There is also a complete scheme of stained glass windows by the eminent firm of Clayton & Bell, including the great west window, which commemorates King Edward VII who in 1896, before his accession to the throne, had attended a service at the church.