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St. Martin's: St. Martin's Square, Basildon

St. Martin's Church - Basildon St. Martin's Church 10 October 2002 The Belltower - St. Martin's Square Basildon
Location: St. Martin's Church
Photographer: Thomas Barnes
Year of photo: Circa 1983
Copyright: Thomas Barnes
Source: Thomas Barnes
Comments: St. Martin's Church Basildon seen before the creation of St. Martin's Walk.
Location: St. Martin's Walk
Photographer: Bix
Year of photo: 10/10/2002
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments: St. Martin's Church October 2002.
Location: St. Martin's Square
Photographer: Bix
Year of photo: 23/10/2002
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments: The Belltower - St. Martin's Square.

St. Martin of Tours Church in Basildon Town Centre was officially opened on 10th November, 1962 in a consecration service conducted by the Bishop of Chelmsford; Rt. Rev. John Gerhard Tiarks*. Its design was the work of local architect Trena M. Cotton and the cost of construction was £40,000. The Rector at the time of opening was Reverend William Winfield. A foundation stone had earlier been laid on 15/10/1960 by then Chairman of Basildon Development Corporation, Sir Humfrey Gale.

To compliment the church three separate water features with fountains were built which survived until the late 1960s. The largest was retained and survived in its original length well into the 1970s before being greatly reduced to its present length. It is now behind an enclosure and fitted with five fountains.

The Church received a royal visitor on October 9th, 1968 when Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent (Katharine Windsor) dedicated the new south porch and Christ sculpture. The 10-foot high Christ figure was designed by the artist T. B. Huxley-Jones* and completed in fibreglass at his studio in Broomfield near Chelmsford, Essex. It was to be his last completed work as a short time later he was admitted to St. John's Hospital in Chelmsford where he died on 10th December 1968. The Rural Dean, Rev. Arthur Dunlop, took the dedication service which also included an address from the Bishop of Chelmsford, John Tiarks. Also in attendance was the Bishop of Bradwell, Neville Welch, Council Chairman, Terry Chapman, Constituency M.P., Eric Moonman, B.D.Corp. Chairman, William Balch, Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Sir John Ruggles-Brise and High Sherriff of Essex, Major N. N. Norman-Butler*.

J. Hodgson Ltd. of Prince Avenue, Southend were the main contractors.

A Garden of Remembrance adjacent to the church opened on November 3rd, 1973, in a dedication service conducted by Rev. Peter Grimwood. Standing within the garden is a statue depicting St. Martin sharing his cloak with a beggar, which was created by notable sculptor and artist Peter Foster.

To the front of the church was a large green which years later became St. Martin's Garden and was officially dedicated by the Bishop of Chelmsford; the Rt. Rev. (Albert) John Trillo* on 21st June 1984. Basildon Council, Basildon Development Corporation and Marks and Spencer (in celebration of their centenary year) all contributed to the cost. A refurbishment of the garden was dedicated on 27th June 2006 by the Bishop of Bradwell, the Rt. Rev. Laurence Alexander Green. The public paved area with seating is called St. Michael's Walk.

War Memorial
Another feature to the front of the church is a stone war memorial with the inscription: We Will Remember Them. It stands approximately 3ft high on a plinth in a seated enclosure and was erected during the 1990s.

In 1989 the plain exterior glass was replaced with stained glass designed and made by Joseph Nuttgens.

A special service attended by The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh was held on 12th March 1999 to mark the official opening of the Belltower and the first 50 years of Basildon new town.

The church on opening stood between two roads in the original Pagel Mead. In the early 1970s Pagel Mead was partly built over when the Marks and Spencer building was completed and the left curve at the end of Great Oaks became Pagel Mead which it remained until around 1997 when St. Martin's Square was completed. The remainder became unused before finally disappearing altogether when Church Walk House was constructed around 1977. Through traffic to Fodderwick and Towngate ceased when the Westgate Shopping Park was completed in 1999.

List of Rectors:-

Rev. William (Bill) Arthur Winfield, Rector and Rural Dean (b.1907-d.1974)1962-1965
Rev. Arthur John Dunlop, Rector and Rural Dean (d.03/04/2007)1965-1971
Rev. Peter Stuart Grimwood, Rector and Rural Dean1972-1976
Rev. Lionel Frank Webber, Rector, Rural Dean and Queen's Chaplain (1994)1976-2001
Rev. Esther Elaine McCafferty, Rector and Rural Dean2002-


1) John Gerhard Tiarks (5th April 1903 - 2nd January 1974), Bishop of Chelmsford (24/02/1962 - 30/04/1971).

2) Thomas Bayliss Huxley-Jones, F.R.B.S. (14th March 1908 - 10th December, 1968). Born Grahamstown, South Africa. Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors and studied at the Wolverhampton School of Art (1924-1929) and from 1929-1933 at the Royal School of Art, South Kensington. For many years he was principal of the school of sculpture at Grays Art School, Aberdeen, Scotland. He was married in 1934 to the artist and sculptress (Rose) Gwynneth Cobden Holt and they lived from around 1949 at High House, Broomfield in Essex. His grave, and that of his wife is in St. Mary churchyard at Broomfield.

3) Albert John Trillo (4th July 1915 - 2nd August 1992), Bishop of Chelmsford (06/07/1971 - 30/09/1985).

4) Major Nicholas Norman Norman-Butler (30th March 1910 - 24th August 1971) of Leez Priory, Little Leighs. High Sherriff of Essex 1968.

Page added: 2002

Text researched and written by William Cox, 2005 with revisions 2006-2008,2010.
Copyright © 2005-2008,2010, B. Cox - Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.

Related external Weblink:
St. Martin's Church Website

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