Adventures and Anecdotes from Wickford Essex to Wickford USA

A view of St Catherine church (2019) from the rarely photographed north side.

“Adventures and Anecdotes from Wickford Essex to Wickford USA”.

I came across the above headline when doing a little research about Canon Francis Dormer Pierce for my book ‘A-Z of Southend’. The above entitled article, about a former rector of St Catherine’s, Wickford, was published in the Essex Chronicle on Friday 4 October 1907 and is accompanied by a picture of the then reverend.
The piece describes Dormer Pierce’s visit to see his sister in Canada. Miss Pierce was in charge of Dr Barnardo’s work for girls in that country. By special invitation, however, Dormer Pierce gave a sermon at the Wickford church on Rhode Island which was celebrating its 200th anniversary. He took with him greetings from his Wickford parishioners and a photograph frame made from the roof of the old St Catherine’s church. At Rhode Island they were to put the St Catherine’s frame in another frame before housing it in their museum. It would be interesting to know if the St Catherine’s frame still exists.
Born on July 7 1869, Dormer Pierce was ordained by the Bishop of Manchester and he served as a curate in that city, and then Reigate, before being appointed rector of Wickford in 1899. In 1908 he was appointed rector of St John the Baptist in Southend. It was while at St John he was chairman of the committee which greeted the Duchess of Argyle when she opened an extension to the Victoria Hospital. The duchess worshipped in the church before leaving the town. Dormer Pierce was also president of the Southend Rugby Football Club from 1911 to 1914. In 1914 he was appointed to St Mary the Virgin, Prittlewell before moving to Brighton in 1917 (but appointed in 1916). On Sunday 2 December 1923 he was late for morning service and so ran to catch a tram but collapsed on board. He was taken to the local Police station where he died. The Canon Frances Dormer Pierce was buried at West Blatchington cemetery.

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