The church reflects the history of a seaside community that is more than 2000 years old, dating back to a Roman settlement, that in later years became a fishing village, and in the 20th century came increasingly to rely on the tourist industry, as the site of the country's first holiday camp, built to welcome visitors from London's East End.
The church building is thought to date from 1289, although the site may date back much further, with links to a Saxon burial site. The nave is 13th century, evidenced by the lancet north window, with the south aisle added in the early 14th century with the tower and many of the windows being built in the 15th century. The church was restored in 1894, with the nave floor raised to the level of the chancel, the south arcade rebuilt, the west gable of the nave reconstructed among many other changes. Further alterations were made throughout the 20th century, beginning with the placing of the east window as a memorial to the lifeboat disaster and the installation of the large font in 1902. In 1908 the south porch was rebuilt.
The Lady Chapel was formed in 1915; floor lowered, window formed in east wall of the south aisle and screening erected. The organ was erected as a war memorial in 1920, with a distinctive, towering case split between two sides of the chancel . It also required an extension to be added to the vestry in order to accommodate the blower box and an engine house to be built at the edge of the south churchyard.
In the late 1940s, the renowned architect Stephen Dykes Bower, responsible for the restoration of Westminster Abbey, advised on the reordering of the chancel and on internal colour schemes. This led to the floors of the chancel and sanctuary being lowered to their original levels and the walls being painted white and gave the framework within which the altar rails and choir stalls were replaced in the following decade or so. The altar and credence table are modern made by village craftsmen in the late 20th century.