World War II forces the Caves to close and three years later, on 21 September 1941, the Vicarage above is badly damaged when a bomb dropped by a German dive bomber explodes on the vicarage lawn.
On 1 June 1943 neighbouring Holy Trinity Church is severely damaged during a German hit and run raid, when a Focke-Wulf fighter-bomber, drops a High Explosive 500-kg bomb. The bomb damages the Church, passing through an unoccupied boarding house on the seafront, then bouncing over more houses, before exploding in the chancel, near the altar. The roof of the church collapses, part of the north wall is demolished and the gallery on the north side crashes down. The tower remains standing, but the beautiful stained glass east window, installed about 1883, is shattered into thousands of pieces, which fly into the houses on the opposite side of the road.
It isn’t until 1950 that the decision is made not to rebuild the church.
During our archaeological dig in early 2018, diggers found a piece of stonework that may well be from Holy Trinity Church.
Photo courtesy of Frank Leppard.