Brightlingsea - St Sabina

Richard Avenue, Brightlingsea, Essex CO7

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A utilitarian design of the late 1950s.

A Mass centre was established in about 1904, in the house of a Mrs Baldwin at 73 Sydney Street, served by a priest who came from Priory Street, Colchester (although Brightlingsea was technically in the parish of Clacton). During the First World War, Mass was said by an army chaplain in the New Church Schoolroom, Queen Street, but afterwards continued at Sydney Street until 1935, and thereafter at various locations around the town until the present church was opened on 20 December 1958 (figure 1). This was built on land given in 1952 by Mr J. Roland Adams, a barrister. Sabina was the name of the donor’s late wife, explaining the unusual dedication to St Sabina, a second-century Roman martyr.

The parish was erected and the first parish priest appointed in 1964.

The building is a utilitarian design, of reinforced concrete portal frame construction with concrete infill panels and UPVC clerestory windows on the flank elevations and Fletton/LBC brick piers and rendered panels on the front elevation. The entrance elevation has an open gable end, and its square piers and porch inantis, reminiscent of a Greek temple front, is this modest building’s only concession to architectural pretension.

Inside, the main church is a single space, with the sanctuary capable of being divided off by folding screen doors to allow the nave to be used for other activities (as at the time of the writer’s visit, see photo bottom left). There is a separate side chapel housing the Blessed Sacrament (photo bottom right). Here there is a timber altar of unusual design, composed of outstretched hands, timber boarded walls, and benches. The main altar of the church is also of timber.

Diocese: Brentwood

Architect: Unknown

Original Date: 1958

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed