The church as we see it today is the second church building in the area that came to be known as Thorpe Bay. The first was built in 1913 in wood and iron, and stood where the church hall now stands. The parish itself was formed in 1921 out of the mother parish of Holy Trinity Southchurch, and was dedicated to St Augustine of Canterbury (the Archbishop of Canterbury being the patron of the living of Southchurch).
As the development of the area took place between the wars by the owners, the Burges Estate, it became clear that the plans for a permanent church that had been shelved during the First World War should now be pursued. By the mid 1920’s H W Allardyce of Barking was appointed the architect, with Sir Charles Nicholson as consultant. While Nicholson’s work is well-known, Allardyce is an obscure figure, and it is likely that St Augustine’s was his only ecclesiastical commission.
A variety of designs were produced, but the need to match the building to the budget available and the desire to see a church erected without undue further delay meant that a relatively simple design in brick with stone dressings was adopted. The aisles were built so that when funds allowed they could be widened, and a chapel on the south side of the chancel added - these have yet to be done. What is striking to the casual visitor is the sense of space, the striking stained glass window in the east wall, and its lofty height. A closer examination of the fittings, most of which date from the 1930’s and 40’s, shows the high quality of workmanship.
This view of the west end shows the west window by Mailes & Co 1957 depicting the Ascension and is particularly striking in the evening. Much of the other glass in the church was made by James Powell and Son of the Whitefriars glassworks, whose work bears the tiny figure of a whitefriar in the bottom right hand corner.
We are located in the middle of Thorpe Bay, about two miles east of Southend on Sea and just a short walk from the sea front. We are easily accessible by train (Thorpe Bay station is on the main line from London Fenchurch Street) and bus (Nos 1, 7 and 9), and there is ample on-street parking around the church. The church itself is on an island site at the junction of Johnstone Road and St Augustine’s Avenue.
Our address is:
St Augustine’s Church,
St Augustine’s Avenue,
Thorpe Bay, Essex.
18th January 2021