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St James the Great, Little Clacton, Essex

(51°49′32″N, 1°8′30″E)
Little Clacton
TM 166 188
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Essex
now Essex
medieval London
now Chelmsford
  • Ron Baxter
25 September 2014

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Feature Sets

Little Clacton is on the northern outskirts of Clacton-on-Sea, 2½ miles N of the coast, just E of the main road to Colchester. The church stands in the centre of the village. It is constructed of flint rubble, rendered on the N side and the W end. The nave has a timber W bell turret and a S porch of brick and timber framing, and the chancel with a priest’s doorway on the S side. The nave is largely 13thc – indicated by a plain pointed lancet on the S side- but was remodelled in the early 14thc. The chancel was remodelled in the 13thc and again in the 14thc, although a round-headed lancet in the N wall indicates that it was originally 12thc. The N nave doorway now provides access to a modern red-brick hall with a gabled roof. The only Romanesque feature recorded here is the Purbeck font.


Great and Little Clacton together formed a manor of 20 hides held by the Bishop of London in 1066 and 1086. In addition to the ploughland there were 20 acres of meadow, pasture for 100 sheep and woodland for 400 pigs, as well as a mill and a fishery. This substantial manor was home in 1086 to more than 100 listed people, indicating a total population of around 500. Five knights held 4 hides of the 20 from the bishop.





RCHME dates the font to the late 12thc. The presence of raised crosses on the (present) N face, visible in 1922 but not so obvious now, indicates a special significance - presumably it faced E with the celebrant’s step to the W. The list description of 1966 also notes the raised crosses but Bettley and Pevsner do not remark any distinction between the faces of the font.


J. Bettley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, New Haven and London 2007, 547-48.

English Heritage Listed Building 119960

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 3: North East (1922), 164-65.