St.Alban's is a living church which serves the community and on this blog and its attached pages you will find details of the church both past and present and how to contact us. Some pages are still under construction so please bear with us for a while.

When you click a link on this page it will take you to another page with the same heading. You will need to scroll down to find the information you require.

Another purpose of this blog is to provide a genealogical guide to the church of St.Alban the Martyr which is situated in St.John's Road, Westcliff on Sea, Essex. Like many churches it contains a wealth of material of interest to people studying local history and family history. It is our intention to provide, as best we can, information about the many people who are commemorated in this beautiful church. Obviously this is a work in progress and the project has only just begun so we ask for your patience. If you have, or think you might have, historical connections with the church, we'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, 18 May 2013


It is only recently that we discovered that two of the windows in our church have connections, indirectly, with both Charles Dickens and the poet William Wordsworth. The connection comes through Katharine Talfourd who is commemorated on a window in the north aisle. Although we know that Katharine regularly attended the church and learn from the window that she was an early benefactress, the window, surprisingly gives us more information about her father than it does about her.

Dedication on St.Katharine Window

St. Katharine. North aisle

Katharine Talfourd was born in 1833 in Bloomsbury, London. She never married and lived most of her life either with her parents or her younger brother William. In 1861 she was living in Margate, Kent with her mother, Rachel at "Retreat" St.Peter's Road. After her mother's death in 1875 she went to live with her brother, William Wordsworth Talfourd at the Rectory in Winceby, Lincolnshire where William was the Rector.

The Rectory at Thundersley where Katharine lived with her brother.

 When her brother became rector of St.Peter's in Thundersley, Essex they continued to live together until William's death in 1900. Katharine then moved to 29 Valkyrie Road in Westcliff on Sea where she lived with two female servants. She attended St.Alban's Church until she died on 17 April 1915.  The St.Katharine window in the north aisle of the church bears a dedication in her memory. Opposite in the south aisle under another window, depicting St.Augustine and St.Alphegue, there is a brass plaque in memory of her brother, William Wordsworth Talfourd.

The young Sir Thomas
Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd,  (26 May 1795 – 13 March 1854), was an English judge and author.  The son of a well-to-do brewer, he was born at Reading, Berkshire. He received his early education at Hendon and at the Reading Grammar school. At the age of eighteen he was sent to London to study law.  Early in 1821 he joined the Oxford circuit, having been called to the bar earlier in the year. Fourteen years later, when he was created a sergeant-at-law, and when again he in 1849 succeeded Mr. Justice Coltman as judge of the Court of Common Pleas, he earned these distinctions more by his laborious care in the conduct of cases than for his brilliance in court.

At the general election in 1835 he was elected MP for the Parliamentary Borough of Reading, a result repeated in the general election of 1837. He chose not to run in the general election of 1841, but ran again in the general election of 1847 and was elected again. In the House of Commons he introduced a Copyright Bill in 1837; his speech on this subject was considered the most telling made in the House during that session. However, the dissolution of Parliament in 1837 following the death of William IV meant that the Bill had to be reintroduced in the new Parliament in 1838. By that time, the bill met with strong opposition and did not pass that year. Talfourd re-introduced the Bill again in 1839, 1840 and 1841, the Bill failing to pass in each of those years. It finally became law in 1842, albeit in a greatly modified form, and at a time when Talfourd was not in Parliament. Charles Dickens dedicated The Pickwick Papers to Talfourd. Sir Thomas was also a respected literary figure and the author of both plays and literary criticism. He was an early champion of the works of the poet William Wordsworth and named his own son after him. Another of his sons was Francis (Frank) Talfourd (1828-1862) a successful dramatist famous for his burlesques of Shakespeare and classical subjects.

Sir Thomas Noon Talford
Talfourd died in 1854 in Stafford after having an "apoplectic seizure" in court while addressing the jury from his judge's seat at the Shire Hall, where he is commemorated by a bust, sculpted by John Graham Lough. Charles Dickens attended his funeral at West Norwood Cemetery.

South Aisle window dedicated to William Wordsworth Talfourd

1 comment:

  1. You might be interested in hearing that I have actually written a novel about the origins and afterlife of The Pickwick Papers, and Thomas Noon Talfourd appears as a character. It’s called Death and Mr Pickwick and it will be published in May 2015 by Random House (in the UK) and in June 2015 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux (in the USA). In doing my research on Talfourd, I had to go beyond his achievements as a lawyer and M.P. and look into his human characteristics - one of which was that he could not pronounce the letter “R”. Accordingly, Katharine Talfourd would have been called “KathaWine” by her father. Further information about the novel can be found at: