Monument record MCC7805 - St James' Church, Colchester


Walls are of flint and septaria rubble, partly faced with knapped flints, tower has a large admixture of Roman brick.


Grid reference TM 0014 2522 (point) (FCE)
Map sheet TM02NW


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

Walls are of flint and septaria rubble, partly faced with knapped flints, tower has a large admixture of Roman brick. Dressings are limestone, roofs are tiled and lead-covered. NW angle of C12 nave remains but is the only visible work of that period. West tower possible added in the C13. N and S nave arcades suggest four different periods of enlargement of the main body. The two E bays of the S arcade belong to later in the C13 and there is some structural evidence that at this time the church had transepts. Early in the C14 the 2 E bays of the N arcade were built or rebuilt. Early in the C15 the chancel arch was rebuilt, the W part of the S arcade built or rebuilt, and the E part rebuilt with C13 materials. The W part of the S aisle is of this date and was probably built to line with the S face of the former transept which was incorporated in it. Late in the C15 the N arcade was reconstructed on similar lines to the S arcade and the N aisle rebuilt, the former transept on this side being apparently reduced in length. In c.1500 the chancel, N and S chapels and N vestry were rebuilt. THe W tower seems to have been much rebuilt in the C15 but exact extent of this work is uncertain. The church was restored in the C19 when the tower arch, with a N porch in place of an earlier one of unknown date were rebuilt and the clesestory added. Features and fittings include: windows and window details C13, C14, C15, C16; C14 and C16 doorways; early C16 N and S chapel roofs; N aisle roof incorporating some carved brackets; 2 C15 beams incorporated in supports; early C16 bracket, moulded, with carved angel support, in S chapel, E wall; C15 doors in N chapel, doorway to vestry; C15 doors in doorway to staircase to tower; ear;y C16 piscina in chancel, C14 one in S aisle; sedilia in chancel, S chapel, S aisle - sills of SE window carried down to form seating. <1> Chancel and chancel chapels are perhaps the best perpendicular work in Colchester. N chapel has a parapet decorated with a frieze of triangles with trefoils alternately the right and the wrong way up. <2> Present church C12 and later substantially perpendicular, subsequent C19 restoration. There was an anchorage here in 1155 endowed by the crown (source 4). <3> <4> A building of many dates - probably C12 in origin (NW corner of nave). C13 and C19 alteration and rebuilding and much work done in the C15, especially in the tower. <5>

Site Assessment = "The building is of interest from its somewhat complicated history." <1> Chancel and chancel chapels are perhaps the best perpendicular work in Colchester. <2>

Trenches dug around the church gave the opportunity to view the detailed working of the drainage. No burials were disturbed during the work, although there was a quantity of loose human bone(charnel). Two of the trenches merely showed graveyard soil cut by the modern drain. The other revealed the outer face of the south aisle wall, and the face of one of the buttresses. <6>

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> DESC TEXT: RCHME. 1922. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex - Volume 3. Vol 3, pp.35-37.
  • <2> DESC TEXT: Pevsner, N. 1954. The Buildings of England, Essex. p119-120.
  • <3> DESC TEXT: Priddy, DA. unknown. SMR.
  • <4> Monograph: Clay, Rotha Mary. 1914. The Hermits and Anchorites of England. pp214-215.
  • <5> DESC TEXT: Department of the Environment. 1971. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest: Colchester Borough. p23.
  • <6> EXCAV REPORT: Colchester Archaeological Trust. 2000. A report on test pits dug at the church of St James the Great, East Hill, Colchester,Essex. CAT Report no.72.

Finds (2)

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (0)

Record last edited

Nov 3 2015 11:41AM

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