This site is dedicated to Sir Walter Tapper, and the fabulous architecture that he left us.


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St Erkenwald's History - Working Life

In the register of 1911, it is recorded that an infant of a Dahomey chief performing at the Kursaal was baptised by the Revd. Dr. Lindsay. The sacristy and vestries were added in 1915 at a cost of £480 and the vicarage erected at a cost of £1,880. The incumbency of Dr. Lindsay continued until he retired in 1924. In 1925, during the incumbency of the Revd. John Holyoak, the north aisle and chapel were added, and dedicated by the Bishop of Chelmsford.

A wooden mission church was opened in the grounds of the Kursaal in 1928 as the result of an anonymous gift to the church to institute a mission in the southern half of the parish. This was sited on the corner of Arnold Avenue and Beresford Road and closed in the 1950s.

The original plans for St. Erkenwald's included a tower on the south side, and the vertical bands of prepared brickwork on either side of the south doorway were intended for it. Rising costs and dwindling congregations with less enthusiasm meant that the tower was never built.

In November 1954, one of several quinquennial surveys of the building was carried out. This survey was performed by Michael Tapper, son of Sir Walter Tapper, architect of the church. You can read the report here.

In January 1973 a commission set up by the Bishop of Bradwell, to examine the problems of buildings and ministry in Southend, recommended that worship and team ministry be concentrated on St. Erkenwald's in the east and St. Alban's in the west, with the eventual closure of St. John's, St. Mark's, All Saints and St. Paul's. St. John's and St. Mark's PCCs made a counter-proposal that they should continue as one to maintain a church in the Town Centre, rather than St. Erkenwald's.

In July of that year, the Revd. L. J. Peat was licensed in the church to take up the work of Team Rector of the United Parish of St. John's with St. Mark's, All Saints with St. Francis and St. Erkenwald's. The Team Ministry began in 1974 with Team Vicars at St. John's with St. Mark's (Revd. D. Williams) and All Saints with St. Francis (Revd. T. Birchard). However, the work of St. Erkenwald's was in decline and that original desire for a cathedral-like structure contributed to its downfall.

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Sir Walter Tapper ~ Sir Walter J. Tapper ~ Gothic Revivalist Architect ~ St Erkenwald, Southend-on-Sea ~ Church of the Annunciation, Bryanston Street ~ Church of the Ascension, Malvern Link ~ Guildford Grammar School Chapel