Frinton-on-Sea - Sacred Heart and St Francis

Connaught Avenue, Frinton-on-Sea, Essex CO13

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A characterful early-twentieth century building of mock-Tudor design, by local architect William Hayne. It was built as a public hall, becoming a Catholic church in the 1920s. 

A railway station was built at Frinton in 1888 and development gathered pace after Sir Richard Powell Cooper took over the Marine and General Land Company, which owned the surrounding development land. The town was developed with a grid of streets, a golf course, grand hotel and churches of all denominations. The tone was one of refinement and respectability - there were no pubs or boarding houses and plenty of places of worship, notably for Nonconformist denominations. The town became very fashionable between the wars.

The building which is now the Catholic church is said to have been built in 1904 as a public hall (‘Queen’s Hall’). The architect was William Hayne, a Free churchman who had offices in Connaught Avenue and designed many buildings in the town, including the Methodist church (1903) and the Free church in Connaught Avenue (1911), the latter described by Bettley & Pevsner as his magnumopus. He also designed the Catholic church of St Francis of Assisi, Walton-on-the-Naze (1939), now demolished.

Queen’s Hall was acquired for Catholic use in the early 1920s, for a sum of £2000, given in equal portions by three parishioners and a legacy from Cardinal Bourne. The first Mass was celebrated on 22 July 1923. The presbytery was built in 1934, also from designs by William Hayne.

The building has the character of a village hall, given an architectural flourish by the applied mock-timber framing. It is built of brick, externally pebbledashed (painted white) with applied stucco ‘timber framing’ (painted mauve). There is a gabled west porch, possibly a later addition, with a central doorway (modern hardwood) flanked by mullion and transom windows (these and all the windows have been replaced in UPVC). Over the entrance is an arched window the eaves. The main worship space has a higher ridge, and on the flank walls the bay divisions are marked by tapering buttresses. The roofs are tiled, with eaves. Sacristies are located to the rear of the church in a lower structure with a hipped roof.

The interior is a single volume of five bays, with a timber roof held together by metal ties. There is a west gallery with a new organ (by Skrabl UK), the case of which is built into, and projects from, the gallery front. The benches and sanctuary furnishings are of pine, the forward altar with an openwork Gothic timber frontal. There is a shallow arched recess on the sanctuary wall with a Byzantine crucifix and figures of Our Lady and St John. On either side of the sanctuary are Gothic doors leading to the sacristies etc. Wall monuments include a marble slab to the memory of Captain Montgomery Williams, Royal Marine, killed in 1916, and below this a wooden plaque to Paul Silwood Humphries, killed in action in Holland in 1941.

Diocese: Brentwood

Architect: William Hayne

Original Date: 1904

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed