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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Essex

by Peter Kessler, 15 August 2010

Tendring Part 1: Churches of Clacton-on-Sea

Parish Church of St James the Great, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex

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 inland. At the time of Domesday Book, 'Clachintuna' was populated by tenant farmers and smallholders and was part of a manor which belonged to the bishops of London. Its parish church was St John the Baptist.

Parish Church of St James the Great, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex

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, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex

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 & Baptist) in 1887. The design was by architect Thomas Baker of Clacton. The nave was extended in 1900 and a new pulpit installed.

Catholic Church of Our Lady of Light & St Osyth, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex

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.

Parish Church of St Paul, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex

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.

Parish Church of St Paul, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex

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.



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