Monument record MCC7829 - Colchester - St Helens Chapel


Possibly pre-Norman in origin.


Grid reference TL 9975 2539 (point) (FCE)
Map sheet TL92NE


Type and Period (2)

Full Description

Possibly pre-Norman in origin. Present building ng mostly C13 with traces of C12 work incorporating Roman brick. C14 chronicle of Colchester states that it was founded by Helen, mother of Constantine, and refounded by Eudo Dapifer in 1076. Evidnce for pre-Norman chapel and that it was refounded by John of Colchester in 1322. Lower courses of N wall Roman construction - Roman foundation? <1> <2> Stone with bands of Roman brick and some C13 lancet windows. <3> Walls are rubble with brick bonding courses; dressings are limestone and roofs are tiled. Chapel seems to have been entirely rebuilt in the C13 but under the later walling on the N side are a few courses of septaria and Roman brick, not quite on the same alignment and either C12 or Roman in origin. The building has been restored and partly rebuilt in `modern' times. Above the W dooreway (modern) is a relieving arch, pointed in Roman brick. <4> Rebuilt in c.1290, but probably C12 or earlier origin. <5> No pre-C13 architectural features. The first metre or so is Roman - above this the wall has been extensively refaced in the C19, therefore date of the core is uncertain. Since restoration in 1076 by Eudo Dapifer the building has had a chequered history - it must have been restored again in C13, when the present windows were inserted. It fell into disuse early in the C14; it then became a chantry which was supressed in due course. For post medieval use see 12254. Thoroughly restored 1883-6. Graded A1a by Rodwell. <6> The differing alignment between the Roman work and the building itself suggest the chapel has been extensively rebuilt. <7> The Colchester Chronicle states that Eudo Dapifer restored the chapel in 1076. The chronicle also says that the chapel was dedicated in 1239 in favour of St Katherine and St Helena, on St Katherine's days, by the Bishop of London. <8> <9> It is now a single celled structure attached to the end of a row of houses in Maidenburgh Street at its junction with St Helen's Lane.

Site Management: = Now part of Colchester Museum. <1> The chapel was purchased and restored by P Round in 1883 and is now occupied by part of Colchester Museum. <2>

Site Assessment = "This is a building of the first importance". A number of current questions concerning principally Roman origins and Anglo-Saxon and Medieval use, remain to be answered by above and below ground archaeology. Study is overdue of this building which is important to the early Medieval history of Colchester. <6> <7>

Sources/Archives (9)

  • <1> DESC TEXT: Priddy, DA. unknown. SMR.
  • <2> RECORD SHEET/FORM: Ordnance Survey. unknown. OS cards. TL92NE3.4, 1976.
  • <3> DESC TEXT: Pevsner, N. 1954. The Buildings of England, Essex. p129.
  • <4> DESC TEXT: RCHME. 1922. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex - Volume 3. Vol 3, p.50.
  • <5> DESC TEXT: unknown. 1971. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest:Colchester. p89.
  • <6> DESC TEXT: Rodwell, Warwick J with Rodwell, KA. 1977. CBA Research Report No. 19 Historic Churches - a wasting asset. pp37-38.
  • <7> DESC TEXT: Crummy, P. 1974. Colchester: Recent Excavations and Research. p27.
  • <8> DESC TEXT: Crummy, P. 1981. Aspects of Anglo-Saxon and Norman Colchester (Colchester Archaeological report 1). No 39 (Col Arch Trust Rep 1), p26, 27.
  • <9> DESC TEXT: The Colchester Chronicle. unknown. The Colchester Chronicle.

Finds (1)

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (0)

Record last edited

Nov 3 2015 11:41AM

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