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Church of the Holy Trinity, Southend-on-Sea

Description: Church of the Holy Trinity

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 23 November 1971
English Heritage Building ID: 122925

OS Grid Reference: TQ9016986104
OS Grid Coordinates: 590169, 186104
Latitude/Longitude: 51.5418, 0.7410

Location: A13, Southend-on-Sea SS3 0PY

Locality: Southend-on-Sea
County: Southend-on-Sea
Country: England
Postcode: SS3 0PY

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Listing Text

Church of the Holy Trinity

(Formerly listed as:
Church of the Holy Trinity)

Old church: Norman and C13 fabric plus a C15 (or later) belfry. Restoration 1857 including rebuilding the west wall. To this was added a major extension on the north by J N Comper, 1906: in turn this received a chancel of 1931-2 by F C Eden.

MATERIALS: The old church is built of mixed rubble with ragstone dressings. The C20 extension is of random ragstone with broken flints in many interstices. The core of the new parts are probably yellow brick, a material exposed in areas on the north side which were never completed. Clay tile roofs.

PLAN: Old church: nave with bell-turret, lower chancel, south porch. New part: nave with chancel of equal height, two-bay incomplete north aisle, north-west vestry.

EXTERIOR: The main fa├žade of the church is now the north side of the C20 enlargement. This is in a loosely Perpendicular style and has a long nave and chancel under a continuous roof-line. Sandwiched between this and the road is a low, embattled north-west vestry and, east of this, an incomplete aisle under its own gable: only two of the four bays were built, the two intended easterly ones being indicated by stock brickwork and the outlines of arches in the north wall of the new nave. The fenestration of the C20 additions is varied, ranging from five lights (chancel east and nave west) to two lights (chancel south and two on the north of the nave), and often with unmedieval, freely-treated tracery, notably the aisle north-west and west, and nave north-west windows which have uncusped ogee intersecting tracery which would have looked at home in a C18 Gothick church. At the west end of the nave is a Norman doorway, reset from the old building: in the head there is a billet-moulded hood, an order of zig-zag, and the jambs have one order of shafts with scalloped capitals. The south door of the old nave is also Norman and is similar to the previously mentioned doorway (but with no billet-moulded hood). On the south side there is a C13 lancet and two C14-style two-light windows under segmental heads. The east window is of three-lights with flowing tracery. Over the west bay of the nave is a timber-clad bell-turret with an octagonal shingled spire. The south porch is timbered and has low side walls of stone. There is no clerestory nor any parapets other than on the north-west vestry. To the left of the priest's door there is a fairly well-preserved mass-dial.

INTERIOR: The old church has at the west end large timbers to support the bell-turret above and consist of chamfered uprights with arch-braces: a date of 1666 is carved on one of the pillars although the origins are probably C15. The chancel and nave are divided by a C15 chancel arch with a chamfered head and demi-octagonal responds. The roofs are longitudinally-boarded: that to the chancel is seven-sided, that to the nave has tie-beams with crown-posts and struts. The lower part of the rood-loft stairs survive on the north side. Between the old nave and the west part of the new is a stocky three-bay arcade with double-chamfered arches and octagonal piers with moulded capitals. The body of the C20 addition has three compartments - the west part, defined by the three-bay arcade mentioned above; a two-bay area beyond a transverse arch; and, beyond a further arch, the chancel. The central compartment has pairs of capital-less arches either side. On the south one of these is filled in, the other opening to the old chancel; on the north one opens to what is now an organ chamber, the other being filled in. The roofs are as follows: west compartment, seven-sided and divided into square panels (painted red); central compartment, again seven-sided with panels but with a raised tie-beam with crown-post and struts (again painted red); chancel; hemispherical with longitudinal boarding (painted blue with a peppering of stars).

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The old chancel has two recesses of interest, that in the south wall early C14, ogee-headed on short shafts, that in the north wall a combined funeral monument and Easter sepulchre. It consists of a low segmental arch under which stands a low tomb-chest with cusped arch-head decoration, and, above, the more spacious four-centred, cusped arch of the Easter sepulchre itself. On the south side is a C14 tomb recess. There is a C13 piscina with attached shafts while in the old nave is a C12 double piscina in the form of scalloped capitals. The late 1850s restoration is probably represented by: the square-headed pews; octagonal font; the polygonal, traceried pulpit; and the attractive stone-inlaid decoration behind the altar. The new part of the church is furnished with elegant but generally conventional woodwork. The old church has a good assemblage of stained glass from the 1850s while the new part has windows by Comper, 1918-21, in the nave west and north-west windows, and an east window by G E R Smith of 1956. There is a good monument over the rood loft stairs to Elizabeth Drew (d 1761) with coloured marbles and an urn in front of an obelisk. The bell-turret houses an early C14 bell.

HISTORY: Now incorporated into Southend, Southchurch was originally a separate settlement, and this, its parish church. There is clear physical evidence of a stone church here in the C12. A restoration took place in 1857 when the west wall was rebuilt. By the C20 the building was too small and a major extension took place in 1906, reducing the old church to an aisle. The chancel was added in 1931-2.

The architect for the 1906 work was J Ninian Comper (1864-1960), born in Aberdeen and the eldest son of the Rev. John Comper, a minister in the Scottish Episcopalian Church. He was articled to Bodley and Garner and commenced practice in 1888. From that year until 1908 he was in partnership with William Bucknall (1851-1944). With the exception of the Welsh War Memorial in Cardiff (1928), all Comper's work was ecclesiastical. He was staunchly Anglo-Catholic in his churchmanship and usually worked for like-minded clients. He was knighted in 1950. F C Eden (1884-1944) was also a pupil of Bodley.

Bettley, J and Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Essex, (2007) 708-9
Anon, A Short Guide to the Ancient Parish of Southchurch - (leaflet guide, nd)

The Church of Holy Trinity, Southchurch Boulevard, Southchurch, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* The church is of special interest with the old building having work dating back to Norman times and the subsequent medieval centuries
* The old church has a number of fixtures and fittings of note, including the Easter sepulchre, Norman door, piscine and Drew monument
* It was much enlarged in the early C20 by two leading figures of the last phase of the Gothic Revival, J Ninian Comper and F C Eden

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.