The Parish Church of St James the Great
lies on the south-west corner of Tower Road and Beatrice Road in
Clacton-on-Sea, on the Essex coast. Occupation of the district,
until the Victorian era, was focussed on Great Clacton, a kilometre
and-a-half (one mile) inland. At the time of the Domesday Book,
'Clachintuna' was populated by tenant farmers and smallholders and
was part of a manor that belonged to the bishops of London. Its parish
church was St John the Baptist.
During the 1820s-1840s, moves were made to
develop the nearby coastline as a resort. By the 1880s it was
already a bustling seaside town, and soon required a parish church
of its own. On 5 November 1912 members of the local lodge of
Freemasons led a parade with choir boys and clergy to lay the
foundation stone of the new church. The men were dressed in full
Masonic regalia, and one of the leading Masons, Colonel the Right
Honourable Mark Lockwood MP, laid the stone.
Christ Church United Reformed Church occupies
a plot inside the junction of Carnarvon Road and Holland Road, next door
to the Catholic church (see below). During the 1600s century Essex
became a stronghold of nonconformity, and this Early English Gothic building
was opened as Christ Church Union Church (Congregational and Baptist)
in 1887. The design was by architect Thomas Baker of Clacton. The nave was
extended in 1900 and a new pulpit installed.
The Catholic Church of Our Lady of Light & St
Osyth stands inside the junction of Church Road and Holland Road,
immediately east of Christ Church (see above). Mass had been held in
the local Montfort House from 1895, until it became clear that
larger premises were required. The church was built in 1902 and
designated 'Our Lady of Light', a title which was brought to the
site from Brittany via a chapel on the earl of Trelawny's estate in
Cornwall and from there to Montfort House.
The Parish Church of St Paul is on the
northern side of Church Road, between St Alban's and St Paul's
roads. It is the older of the town's two parish churches, but is
less central, lying further to the north-east. In the late 1860s,
the habit of taking holidays by the seaside was becoming popular
and a group of London businessmen appealed for financial help to
build a church to minister to all the holidaymakers. This temporary,
cement-concrete St Paul's was erected in 1875.
The town developed so rapidly that the church quickly
proved inadequate. A chancel, transepts, vestry, organ chamber (in brick)
and additional seating were added, and the enlarged building was consecrated
in 1881. The church gained its own parish in 1878. As early as 1925, even
this enlarged building was clearly not adequate for the work, but delays
meant that the present church was not built until 1964-1966. Part of the
old church continued in use until it was consecrated.
Five photos on this page kindly contributed by
the late David Kelleher.