Frinton St Mary Magdalene
St Mary Magdalene, Frinton-on-Sea, Essex
Constructed in 1929 by Sir Charles Nicholson in Old Road as a chapel of ease to the tiny medieval St Mary on the seafront. Now rebadged as St Mary's, and proclaiming itself 'a Bible-based church' (a slightly snobby way of implying that they don't think that other churches are) on their website.
I came here on the 2014 Historic Churches bike ride, known as Ride and Stride in Essex. But I found the church locked, and not taking part in the event. There was a Ride and Stride poster on the window of the modern narthex, but in small print it said 'we're sorry there is no one here to sign your form'.
However, inside the narthex a group of pensioners were having tea, presided over by a large, self-important man who rose from his seat when I came in to try the door of the church. "There's no one on duty," he told me, seeing my cycling clothes, "there's no one here." He delivered these lines with obvious satisfaction. He knew about that the Ride and Stride event was on, but he obviously didn't approve of it, and he was pleased they weren't involved. Perhaps it was too ecumenical for a 'Bible-based church' to touch. He didn't say sorry. He'd obviously been waiting for me so he could deliver his lines. It got worse. I asked if it was possible to see inside the church. "No," he replied, his pomposity obviously reveling in the moment, "the church is locked and you can't go in." Then he went back to hectoring his pensioners.
I went outside and pottered about a bit, photographing the exterior. A smiley lady came and tried one of the other locked doors. She'd come from Manningtree to explore the Tendring Peninsula's heritage. I pointed out that most other churches were open, but not this one. I told her of my experience with the fat man inside. She just smiled and said "well, this IS Frinton you know." And I might have left it there if it were not for the fact that the beautiful medieval church of St Mary a few hundred yards off, with its Burne-Jones windows, was open, and is obviously open every day.