NEWS the last hotel in Frinton could be converted into holiday apartments has prompted a look back at the prominent building's history.

And the important part it played in the Great War.

The Rock Hotel, close to the esplanade, dates back to 1895 explains historian Heather Johnson and has an interesting past, not least because it was one of at least four properties in the seaside town to take in wounded or sick soldiers at the outbreak of the First World War.

As a result, it became known as the Rock Red Cross Hospital.

Heather explains : "The other known properties were the Recess on St. Mary's Road, known as Frinton Voluntary Military Hospital, Turret Lodge on the Esplanade and the Frinton-on-Sea Officers Disabled Home but its whereabouts are unknown."

She explains the building had three floors and a basement and was immediately offered for use as a hospital by Florence Turner, who owned the hotel at the time, probably with her husband.


"At her personal expense, Florence equipped the Hospital and opened it on September 3 1914.

"A surviving British Red Cross hospital card records the Hospital had a capacity of between 15 and 17 beds.

"Evidence points to the Hospital being operational until end of June 1916."

Heather says identical articles in the Chelmsford Chronicle and the Essex Newsman in August 1914 confirmed Florence's offer and the fact she arranged for motor transport from Harwich to Frinton.

She has discovered Florence was born in 1879, in Camden Town, London.

Her father was a Galway-born Stockbroker, James Blake Concanon, and her mother Chelsea-born Louisa Ann Simm.


Florence went on to marry Croydon-born Stockbroker Errol Turner in 1899 and the couple initially made their home in Westminster, London, where their children Errol, Brian and Helen were born.

The family were quite well off and had six servants including a nurse, under nurse, cook and three maids.

"Florence’s home address during the War years was 45a Nevern Square, Earls Court.

"To all intents and purposes, the Rock appears to have been the Turner holiday home originally.


"Florence took the post of Commandant and Matron – it often happened that the lady of the house would fill such a position and the Rock was no exception.

"Apart from receiving War Office grants in 1915 and 1916, Florence funded, or maintained, the Hospital herself," adds Heather.

As with all World War One Home Hospitals and Convalescent Homes, the names of all those who nursed and volunteered at The Rock will never be known.

In addition to Florence Turner, only four trained nurses and four Voluntary Aid Detachment members, known as VADs have been discovered so far.

Heather explains all of the trained nurses had volunteered their services to the British Red Cross.

The nurses includes Sister Annie kelly whose British Red Cross service card has been preserved and is pictured here.

The four VADs were Dorothy Burgess, from Frinton, Violet Carter, who lived in Kirby Cross and also worked at Thorpe Hall Hospital, Miss Margaret Walker and Lilian Wilmer-Fox, who were from London.

Florence, who was a stalwart of the British Red Cros Society was given a five years membership badge (BRCS) and awarded a four years' war service bar for her work.

Her service cards record she worked in the dental and massage department, as acting quatermaster at the Officers Hospital on Park Street as a driver to the Chairman of the Collections Committee amongst many other things.

She also carried out writing and other detachment work and took in the sick and injured.

heather adds : "So Florence was an extraordinarily hard-working woman during the War years."

Florence died on June 4 1966.

The Rock Hotel, as it is today, opened in 1978 and is run by the Benmore family.

Plans have recently been submitted to Tendring Council by its current owners to convert the Rock into eight holiday apartments but it is continuing to trade as normal.

Frinton itself has long enjoyed a reputation as a quality seaside resort and in the first half of the 20th century, the town attracted big-name visitors and boasted high class hotels along the Esplanade.

The Prince of Wales frequented the golf club, while Winston Churchill rented a house in the town and in 1951, The Walton and Frinton Guide Book described it as the most exclusive seaside resort in Britain.

Today beach huts along Frinton’s seafront can sell for up to £40,000.