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Great Clacton | by Simon_K
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Great Clacton

St John the Baptist, Great Clacton, Essex


Once a village, but subsumed into the urban area as long ago as the 1890s, this is now the poorest area of town, which is saying something. In a narrow churchyard among portakabins was St John the Baptist. A big church, the mother church of Clacton. Norman in the chancel, Early English in the nave, extended in the 19th Century by that barbarian Hakewill who placed three absurd neo-Norman windows at the east end. Externally it is reminiscent of Copford on the other side of Colchester, except for the addition of a red brick tower in the 15th Century. There are other similarities - both Copford and Great Clacton were in the ownership of the Bishop of London, and as at Copford the external buttressing and springing inside show that there nave inside was once vaulted, an extraordinary thought.


However, there the similarities end. Unlike wonderful Copford, the interior here has been gutted - all furnishings removed and replaced with crappy modern chairs. There is no pulpit, only a lectern. The altar stands out for being colourful - without it, you might not even think this was a church. But the people were very nice, and they told me they opened as much as they could, and you could knock on the church office door if you wanted to see inside if it was locked. Interestingly, the Tudors built the tower for the bells from the abandoned church of Little Holland, a mile or so off, but they left the former 13th Century belfry woodwork insde the church, where you can see it today.

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Taken on September 13, 2014