Independence Day - Southend had remained within the jurisdiction of the parish of Prittlewell for around fifty years, but in 1842, on the creation of the separate parish of St. John the Baptist, it attained a measure of independence.
St John the Baptist Parish Church opened on Pier Hill
The church was designed by Thomas Hopper in 1838. Hopper had no formal architectural training but he had designed and worked on a wide range of buildings for the Prince Regent and many of the nobility. He was also for many years County Surveyor for Essex and was responsible for converting Chelmsford gaol to the 'modern' cell system..
Hoppers plans for St John's were for 'a building in the Norman style seating 500 worshippers'. A sketch of the first building shows it to have been a relatively small stone building with a traditional arrangement of Nave, Chancel and short Transepts. A bell turret was over the west door. Window and door openings had round 'Norma' arches. It is difficult to belive that the building shown could have held 500 worshipers and Hopper's original design may, therefore, have been adapted and reduced.