Until late Victorian times Frinton was a church, several farms and a handful of cottages. In the 1890s, the original developer of the town, Peter Bruff, was bought out by R Powell Cooper,who had already laid out the golf course. Powell Cooper rejected Bruff's plans for a pier, stipulated the quality of housing to be built and prohibited boarding houses and pubs. The Sea DefenceAct 1903 established a project to stabilise the cliffs, with the Greensward, which separates the Esplanade from the sea, put in place to stabilise the land further.
In the first half of the 20thcentury, the town attracted visitors from high society with a lido complete with palm trees, shopping with, Connaught Avenue, named after the Duke of Connaught and opened by his wife, being dubbed EastAnglia's Bond Street, high class hotels along the Esplanade, a tennis tournament second only to Wimbledon; the Prince of Wales frequented the golf club and Winston Churchill rented a house. Frintonwas the last target in England attacked by the Luftwaffe, in 1944.
The town has a reputation for a conservative nature (although it was in a Labour constituency from 1997 to 2005). Until recentlythere were no pubs, although there have long been bars in seafront hotels and at the golf and War Memorial clubs. The first pub, the Lock and Barrell, opened in 2000.
In 2008 the town was thesubject of a BBC Wonderland documentary, which focused on the campaign to 'save' Frinton gates and on a number of elderly residents.
At 2am on Saturday 18 April 2009, Network Rail replaced the oldwooden gates on the level crossing at the entrance to Frinton with remotely operated lifting barriers. Network Rail did this, in spite of a three-year-long campaign by the town's people to save thegates, in order to improve performance and safety, and to reduce costs. The morning following the gates' removal, around a hundred people gathered to protest over the decision.