Monument record MCC7854 - St Nicholas' Church, Colchester


Entirely rebuilt in the C14, demolished in 1950.


Grid reference TL 9976 2518 (point) (FCE)
Map sheet TL92NE


Type and Period (3)

Full Description

Entirely rebuilt in the C14, demolished in 1950. Before demolition church dated to 1875-6 - work of GG Scott. Excavation after demolition showed the nave and chancel of the Medieval church had Roman walls for their foundation - part of a major public building. <1> Church was described by the RCHM as of mixed rubble with limestone dressings and tile and lead covered roof. It had been entirely rebuilt early in the C19, when it comprosed chancel, N vestry, crossing, probably N and S transepts, and nave with N and S aisles. There was also a S chapel of uncertain date. According to Morant a tower fell late in the C17. As this ruined the chancel it probably stood over the crossing. The church was restored in the C18 and the tower built or rebuilt N of the crossing. In 1875 the church was generally restored, chancel largely rebuilt, the S aisle and transept chapel destroyed and a new church of much larger size added to the S of the old building. Features and fittings included: early C15 doorway and window in tower; 2 C15 bells;early - mid C13 bracket; slab with indent c.1500 brought from St Runwalds church; C15 niche in N aisle; C14 niche in W wall, external; late C14 piscina in old chancel; C12 piscina in old chancel - loose, capital or pillar piscina; stoup or recess - date uncertain; C14 and C15 worked and moulded stones in churchyard N and S of church. <2> Described also by Pevsner as essentially C19. Groud floor of tower was Perpendicular, also N aisle (or chapel) W of it, and `present' N aisle (originally nave and chancel). Date of these parts was C14. <3> Demolished 1955. No adequate record was made. hull atttempted to record information here; circumstances were hopeless. Rodwell gives an attempt at a reconstructed plan. RCHM is incorrect in certain aspects, eg, in thinking that the tower was acrossing tower. In fact it was built over, or in the place of a N transept. Little is known about the early church. The C12 pillar piscina is the earliest surviving detail. The church's situation indicates that, like All Saints, it preceeded the castle and the associated alteration in the course of the High Street. <4> The excavation in 1955 found the Victorian church walls built on top of the Roman ones, with no indication of Medieval walls. Finds included skeletons (some possibly Medieval?), pottery, window glass, a coin of ? (c.1285), part of a capital or base of Purbeck marble (C13). <5> Hull had supposed that the first church had been built on Roman foundations but as no Medieval walls were found and the Victorian walls rested on the Roman work. It seems that the first church used upstanding Roman walls. <6> Other refs. <7> <8>

Site Assessment = Destruction of the church was greatest disaster in the Diocese since the last war. The structural history of the building was lost and all below ground archaeology (some possibly in small area under High Street pavement. The graveyard was mostly destroyed also. <4>

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> DESC TEXT: Priddy, DA. unknown. SMR.
  • <2> DESC TEXT: RCHME. 1922. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex - Volume 3. Vol 3, pp.39-41.
  • <3> DESC TEXT: Pevsner, N. 1954. The Buildings of England, Essex. p12.
  • <4> DESC TEXT: Rodwell, Warwick J with Rodwell, KA. 1977. CBA Research Report No. 19 Historic Churches - a wasting asset. p31.
  • <5> EXCAV REPORT: Hull, MR. 1960. The St Nicholas Church Site, Colchester. NS, Vol 25, part III, pp301-28.
  • <9> DESC TEXT: Crummy, P. 1981. Aspects of Anglo-Saxon Restoration of the Ancient Arch observed at the old Mo.

Finds (6)

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Nov 3 2015 11:41AM

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