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Cliff Town Congregational Church and Memorial Hall

A Grade II Listed Building in Milton, Southend-on-Sea

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.5358 / 51°32'8"N

Longitude: 0.7104 / 0°42'37"E

OS Eastings: 588077

OS Northings: 185361

OS Grid: TQ880853

Mapcode National: GBR Y93.PT

Mapcode Global: VHKHM.8NFH

Entry Name: Cliff Town Congregational Church and Memorial Hall

Listing Date: 1 November 2007

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1392328

English Heritage Legacy ID: 502883

Location: Southend-on-Sea, SS1

County: Southend-on-Sea

Electoral Ward/Division: Milton

Built-Up Area: Southend-on-Sea

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Southend Team Ministry

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford

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Southend-on-Sea

Listing Text


840/0/10072 NELSON STREET
01-NOV-07 Cliff Town Congregational Church and M
emorial Hall

GV II
Congregational Church 1865, Architect W. A. Dixon. North aisle and porch added 1887, balconies to north and south aisles1897. Kentish Ragstone with Bath stone dressings; concrete tile roofs, slates to spire.

Memorial Hall: 1925, ashlar masonry, tiled roof.

PLAN: The church has a west entrance porch, nave and aisles to north and south, both with raised balconies with storage rooms under; there is a tower to the south west. At the east end is a two and a half storey range, with a further projecting two storey wing attached to that at its south end. Set within the L shape formed by these two is the Memorial Hall.

Memorial Hall: Rectangular, two storey height; entrance lobby at north end. The roof is pitched and half hipped to the south.

EXTERIOR: The church is designed in a Gothic, Early English style. The west end presents an irregular range of ten overlapping gables, under which are six doors, four of them double. Three gables front the single storey porch behind which can be seen the trefoil decorated top of the pair of buttresses of the original west front: between these and above the porch is a rose window set within a pointed arch with blank tracery in its head. The buttresses originally flanked three lancet windows, which still survive inside the porch. The porch has a central double door with an ogee arch over a moulded arch and colonnettes with foliated capitals. This is flanked by twin lancet windows with trefoil heads, and hood moulds with foliated stops. To the south is a four stage buttressed tower. The first stage has double doors under a trefoil headed arch and the second a trefoil headed lancet. The fourth stage is octagonal with louvred trefoil headed lancet with hood mould over, above which is an octagonal spire. The south elevation has four gables over twin trefoil headed lancet windows which light the balcony, under which are four rectangular mullioned windows. To the east is the end gable of the east range, with an irregular arrangement of rectangular windows, and to the east of this the back projecting wing with large square windows in the first storey. The north elevation also has four gables with twin lancets under, but the windows at ground floor level are designed to be more decorative than those in the south elevation, with a regular pattern of two pairs of trefoil headed lancets between four mullioned windows. The style and arrangement of windows and a door in the north gable of the east wing is irregular, and also more decorative than that to the south.

Memorial hall: Only the north elevation is completely visible. It has a two storey central section with double doors flanked by narrow windows, with continuous hood mould over. On either side of the windows are buttresses and two flat roofed single storey sections. One of the buttresses carries a carved stone commemorative plaque with the inscription "To the Glory of God Cliff Town Memorial Hall. This hall was erected in loving memory of the men of Cliff Town who laid down their lives in the Great War 1914 - 1918".

INTERIOR: The porch is divided into three. Two side lobbies give access to the main body of the nave under the gallery at the west end. The church is divided into nave, aisles and balconies by arcades, the inner with pointed arches, the outer with ogee arches: both have piers with foliate capitals. Above the point of each arch in the nave are circular clerestory windows. Centrally placed at the east end is a carved wooden pulpit with carved panelled screen behind: the steps up either side of the pulpit have wrought iron banisters. Above the pulpit and screen the organ pipes rise the full height of the nave. The nave roof has tie beams supported on braces springing from corbels, and decoratively pierced angle struts and rafters cut so that three trefoil shapes are formed in the spaces between them. All windows contain some stained glass, the most elaborate reserved for the rose window and those in the south and north elevations, above the balconies.

Beyond the east end, the three storey cross wing contains offices and meeting rooms. To the south, on the ground floor, is a half height wood panelled committee room. To the north of that are two vestries, followed by a "parlour", which contains a modern disabled access ramp, followed by a hall and staircase. The ground floor of the projecting south east wing contains a kitchen and two store rooms: above these is a room containing three stained glass windows. Above the vestry and parlour is a large meeting room which has two fireplaces with decorative cast iron surrounds and grates, a further meeting room and a smaller room now used as a Sunday School room.

There are a number of staircases giving access to different levels, all with decoratively wrought iron banisters. All joinery and doors appear original.

Memorial Hall: The hall is reached through a lobby containing plain single panelled doors. Both lobby and hall have a wooden parquet floor, and the walls are panelled to head height. At the south end is a stage, with panelling behind. The ceiling at west and east ends forms a wide pointed arch, and between these two the ceiling begins to arch, then rises straight up into a long line of windows set just below the flat ceiling. Attached to the wall panelling are a number of cast iron plaques each carrying a number of names of those who died in the First World War.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: At the west end defining the boundary with the street is a low ragstone wall with three entrances and eight square piers with shoulders, surmounted by a cube with a quatrefoil on four sides.

HISTORY: The planned estate of Cliff Town was built on land leased by the railway developer between the railway line and the cliff-top, with the intention of capitalising on the arrival of the railway in Southend in 1856. The development was built between 1859 and 1861, and by the mid 1860s appeared to be an ideal location for a new Congregational church, needed to replace the existing overcrowded chapel on the High Street. In May 1865 the foundation stone of the new church on Nelson Street was laid: five months later the church was open.The stained glass rose window in the east elevation was presented by Thomas Dowset, the first Mayor of Southend, in 1892; Dowsett had been instrumental in the building of the new church.

The membership of the church continued to expand, and by 1887 further accommodation was needed. Funds were raised to add a north aisle, and to build a lecture hall and Sunday School rooms. By 1897 the church was once more suffering from overcrowding, and balconies were added to the north and south aisles. A new organ was built, and the old organ moved to a new church in Prittlewell. A final phase of building was completed in 1925, with the opening of the Memorial Hall behind the church, commemorating the dead of the First World War.

Historic OS maps demonstrate the expansion of the church between 1875 and 1897 to fill the whole plot. The 1897 map also shows a school on a separate plot behind the church, now occupied by the Memorial Hall: it also indicates that the porch that now fronts the entrance was built at the same time as the north aisle. An early print reproduced on the cover of The History of Cliff Town Congregational Church, Southend-on-Sea by John R. Hodgkins shows the church as it was when first built, without porch or north aisle.

SOURCES: Hodgkins, John R. 1974. The History of Cliff Town Congregational Church Southend-on-Sea 1799 -1972.
Website; http://www.southend.gov.uk

REASON FOR DESIGNATION DECISION
Cliff Town Church is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* It was designed by W.A. Dixon, an architect with two Grade II listed churches to his credit.
* It is a complete architectural and decorative ensemble with completely furnished interior, and with surviving offices and meeting rooms.
* It is of historical interest, reflecting the expansion of Congregationalism, its social and liturgical context, as well as the growth in popularity of seaside towns through the C19.
* Its elaborate composition has considerable townscape value in the Cliff Town estate; it makes a significant contribution to the conservation area, and has group value with the Grade II listed terrace, Nos. 1-15 Nelson Street.


This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

Description


840/0/10072 NELSON STREET
01-NOV-07 Cliff Town Congregational Church and M
emorial Hall

GV II
Congregational Church 1865, Architect W. A. Dixon. North aisle and porch added 1887, balconies to north and south aisles1897. Kentish Ragstone with Bath stone dressings; concrete tile roofs, slates to spire.

Memorial Hall: 1925, ashlar masonry, tiled roof.

PLAN: The church has a west entrance porch, nave and aisles to north and south, both with raised balconies with storage rooms under; there is a tower to the south west. At the east end is a two and a half storey range, with a further projecting two storey wing attached to that at its south end. Set within the L shape formed by these two is the Memorial Hall.

Memorial Hall: Rectangular, two storey height; entrance lobby at north end. The roof is pitched and half hipped to the south.

EXTERIOR: The church is designed in a Gothic, Early English style. The west end presents an irregular range of ten overlapping gables, under which are six doors, four of them double. Three gables front the single storey porch behind which can be seen the trefoil decorated top of the pair of buttresses of the original west front: between these and above the porch is a rose window set within a pointed arch with blank tracery in its head. The buttresses originally flanked three lancet windows, which still survive inside the porch. The porch has a central double door with an ogee arch over a moulded arch and colonnettes with foliated capitals. This is flanked by twin lancet windows with trefoil heads, and hood moulds with foliated stops. To the south is a four stage buttressed tower. The first stage has double doors under a trefoil headed arch and the second a trefoil headed lancet. The fourth stage is octagonal with louvred trefoil headed lancet with hood mould over, above which is an octagonal spire. The south elevation has four gables over twin trefoil headed lancet windows which light the balcony, under which are four rectangular mullioned windows. To the east is the end gable of the east range, with an irregular arrangement of rectangular windows, and to the east of this the back projecting wing with large square windows in the first storey. The north elevation also has four gables with twin lancets under, but the windows at ground floor level are designed to be more decorative than those in the south elevation, with a regular pattern of two pairs of trefoil headed lancets between four mullioned windows. The style and arrangement of windows and a door in the north gable of the east wing is irregular, and also more decorative than that to the south.

Memorial hall: Only the north elevation is completely visible. It has a two storey central section with double doors flanked by narrow windows, with continuous hood mould over. On either side of the windows are buttresses and two flat roofed single storey sections. One of the buttresses carries a carved stone commemorative plaque with the inscription "To the Glory of God Cliff Town Memorial Hall. This hall was erected in loving memory of the men of Cliff Town who laid down their lives in the Great War 1914 - 1918".

INTERIOR: The porch is divided into three. Two side lobbies give access to the main body of the nave under the gallery at the west end. The church is divided into nave, aisles and balconies by arcades, the inner with pointed arches, the outer with ogee arches: both have piers with foliate capitals. Above the point of each arch in the nave are circular clerestory windows. Centrally placed at the east end is a carved wooden pulpit with carved panelled screen behind: the steps up either side of the pulpit have wrought iron banisters. Above the pulpit and screen the organ pipes rise the full height of the nave. The nave roof has tie beams supported on braces springing from corbels, and decoratively pierced angle struts and rafters cut so that three trefoil shapes are formed in the spaces between them. All windows contain some stained glass, the most elaborate reserved for the rose window and those in the south and north elevations, above the balconies.

Beyond the east end, the three storey cross wing contains offices and meeting rooms. To the south, on the ground floor, is a half height wood panelled committee room. To the north of that are two vestries, followed by a "parlour", which contains a modern disabled access ramp, followed by a hall and staircase. The ground floor of the projecting south east wing contains a kitchen and two store rooms: above these is a room containing three stained glass windows. Above the vestry and parlour is a large meeting room which has two fireplaces with decorative cast iron surrounds and grates, a further meeting room and a smaller room now used as a Sunday School room.

There are a number of staircases giving access to different levels, all with decoratively wrought iron banisters. All joinery and doors appear original.

Memorial Hall: The hall is reached through a lobby containing plain single panelled doors. Both lobby and hall have a wooden parquet floor, and the walls are panelled to head height. At the south end is a stage, with panelling behind. The ceiling at west and east ends forms a wide pointed arch, and between these two the ceiling begins to arch, then rises straight up into a long line of windows set just below the flat ceiling. Attached to the wall panelling are a number of cast iron plaques each carrying a number of names of those who died in the First World War.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: At the west end defining the boundary with the street is a low ragstone wall with three entrances and eight square piers with shoulders, surmounted by a cube with a quatrefoil on four sides.

HISTORY: The planned estate of Cliff Town was built on land leased by the railway developer between the railway line and the cliff-top, with the intention of capitalising on the arrival of the railway in Southend in 1856. The development was built between 1859 and 1861, and by the mid 1860s appeared to be an ideal location for a new Congregational church, needed to replace the existing overcrowded chapel on the High Street. In May 1865 the foundation stone of the new church on Nelson Street was laid: five months later the church was open.The stained glass rose window in the east elevation was presented by Thomas Dowset, the first Mayor of Southend, in 1892; Dowsett had been instrumental in the building of the new church.

The membership of the church continued to expand, and by 1887 further accommodation was needed. Funds were raised to add a north aisle, and to build a lecture hall and Sunday School rooms. By 1897 the church was once more suffering from overcrowding, and balconies were added to the north and south aisles. A new organ was built, and the old organ moved to a new church in Prittlewell. A final phase of building was completed in 1925, with the opening of the Memorial Hall behind the church, commemorating the dead of the First World War.

Historic OS maps demonstrate the expansion of the church between 1875 and 1897 to fill the whole plot. The 1897 map also shows a school on a separate plot behind the church, now occupied by the Memorial Hall: it also indicates that the porch that now fronts the entrance was built at the same time as the north aisle. An early print reproduced on the cover of The History of Cliff Town Congregational Church, Southend-on-Sea by John R. Hodgkins shows the church as it was when first built, without porch or north aisle.

SOURCES: Hodgkins, John R. 1974. The History of Cliff Town Congregational Church Southend-on-Sea 1799 -1972.
Website; http://www.southend.gov.uk

REASON FOR DESIGNATION DECISION
Cliff Town Church is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* It was designed by W.A. Dixon, an architect with two Grade II listed churches to his credit.
* It is a complete architectural and decorative ensemble with completely furnished interior, and with surviving offices and meeting rooms.
* It is of historical interest, reflecting the expansion of Congregationalism, its social and liturgical context, as well as the growth in popularity of seaside towns through the C19.
* Its elaborate composition has considerable townscape value in the Cliff Town estate; it makes a significant contribution to the conservation area, and has group value with the Grade II listed terrace, Nos. 1-15 Nelson Street.


Reasons for Listing

REASON FOR DESIGNATION DECISION
Cliff Town Church is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* It was designed by W.A. Dixon, an architect with two Grade II listed churches to his credit.
* It is a complete architectural and decorative ensemble with completely furnished interior, and with surviving offices and meeting rooms.
* It is of historical interest, reflecting the expansion of Congregationalism, its social and liturgical context, as well as the growth in popularity of seaside towns through the C19.
* Its elaborate composition has considerable townscape value in the Cliff Town Estate; it makes a significant contribution to the conservation area, and has group value with the Grade II listed terrace, Nos. 1-15 Nelson Street.

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