Monument record MCC2533 - St Mary Magdalen's Churchyard, Colchester


Medieval and later churchyard.


Grid reference Centred TM 0059 2482 (0m by 1m)
Map sheet TM02SW


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

Churchyard of St Mary Magdalen's Hospital (and later church).

St Mary Magdalen's Hospital was apparently founded by Eudo Dapifer in the first part of the 12th century (Eudo's died in 1120).<1> The Medieval church (ECC418) stood on the north side of Magdalen Green (MCC9289). Speed's map of 1610 shows the church with a walled or fenced churchyard and a possible gatehouse or lynch gate onto Magdalen Green to the south, with Mary Magdelins Church marked to the north and Maudlyn chapel to the north of that.<2>

The medieval church (MCC418) was demolished in 1852 and a new one built to the south on the site of Magdalen Green (MCC9290). The graveyard appears to have been extended around the new church.<3> In 1854 the closure of all town churchyards was ordered, except St Mary Magdalen's where burials continued until 1892.<4>

In total, 234 graves were investigated during the excavations: 197 from Site A and 37 from Site B.<6> The specialist report on human remains, however, records that there were only 68 complete inhumations and an uncertain number of incomplete but fairly well-preserved individual bones. There was also a high incidence of residual skeletal material. The majority of the graves could not be closely dated. Of those that could be assessed with reasonable certainty, five graves belonged to Phase 1; seven graves to Phase 2; 48 graves to Phase 3; and 46 graves to Phase 4. Others could only be bracketed within paired phases with 34 graves in the broad range of combined Phases 2-3 and 94 graves in Phases 3-4.

The northern boundary to the medieval churchyard was defined in Site B, ditches BF176/177, which remained unchanged until 1832, when it was moved slightly to the south (when the new almshouses were constructed fronting Brook Street).

On completion the remains were reinterred at Mersea Road cemetery.<5><6>

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <1> Monograph: Cooper, Janet (Ed). 1994. Vol. IX, The Borough of Colchester, A History of the County of Essex. Volume IX. p328.
  • <2> Monograph: Speed, J. 1616. Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain. Book I.
  • <3> Cartographic materials: Ordnance Survey. 1876. 1876 OS 1:500 Maps of Colchester. 1:500. 12.15.
  • <3> Cartographic materials: Ordnance Survey. c.1805. 1805 1 inch OS Maps of Colchester. 12.15.
  • <4> Monograph: Cooper, Janet (Ed). 1994. Vol. IX, The Borough of Colchester, A History of the County of Essex. Volume IX. p297.
  • <5> Serial: Colchester Archaeological Trust Ltd.. 1991. The Colchester Archaeologist (Issue Number 4) 1990-1. No 4. p19.
  • <6> Article in serial: Crossan, Carl. 2004. Excavations at St Mary Magdalen's Hospital, Brook Street, Colchester.

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (5)

Record last edited

Oct 18 2016 10:52AM

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