Monument record MCC7983 - St Giles' Church, Colchester


C12 and later date.


Grid reference TL 9981 2481 (point) (FCE)
Map sheet TL92SE


Type and Period (8)

Full Description

C12 and later date. Generally believed to be a Norman foundation, closely associated with the Abbey (St John's). <1> Walls are mixed rubble with some septaria and brick; porch is mainly brick and the tower is timber-framed and weatherboarded (post Medieval). Dressings are limestone and brick and the roofs are tile, slate and lead-covered. Nave S wall was probably built in the C12. Chancel has one C13 window and may be of that date. A N aisle, now included in the nave, was built or rebuilt probably late in the C14. Early in the C16, the N chapel and S porch were added. The W tower is post Medieval. Early in the C19 the nave and aisle were thrown into one and the existing colonnades and galleries erected. Features and fittings include: C12 (blocked, Roman brick head - see ), C13, C14, early C16 windows; early C16 doorway in chancel N wall; late C14 N doorway in nave N wall; early C16 roofs to N chapel and S porch; early C16 bracket in E wall of N chapel; late C14 door in N doorway; worked stones incorporated in W and E walls of churchyard, including parts of C12 wall arcade; length of C16 brick walling, W of tower. <2> <3> <8> Closely associated with St John's Abbey, St Giles may have been founded between 1096 and mid C12 for servants and tenants of the abbey. The proportions of the church indicate a C12 date. There may have been a W tower originally. Roman brick was extensively used in the Norman structure. Morant recorded that only part of the church was in use in 1748, for services, the rest in ruins. By this time the Medieval tower had been replaced by a slighter, wooden structure which is still extant. <4> in 1972 an E-W trench was dug for a heating duct in the chancel. A N-S foundation was observed by the architect and represents the original chancel E end which was rectangulr rather than apsidal. A C13 window in the chancel S wall, E of the N-S foundation, suggests the chancel was rebuilt and extended in the C13. Excavation in the church in 1975 found the original nave N wall which had been replaced with an arcade when the N aisle was added in the C14. Burials W of the Norman nave imply that the Abbey cemetery had originally enclosed the St Giles on all 4 sides. This means that the precinct wall originally extended across the N side of the church, which was wholly inside the cemetery. The addition of the aisle in C14 was accompanied by the construction of a tower at the W end of the nave. The precinct wall was probably rebuilt further S, at thsi time, to connect with the aisle by the E end and the tower at the W end. For documentary background to the church and St John's Abbey see source 5. <5> <6>

Site Assessment = Redundant. Now used as ambuklance store. <1> Redundant since 1952. After use as a store it became a Masonic Hall. Rodwell records the building in a sad state, particularly the fine S porch, treatened because of ground level reduction by bulldozers which muct have destroyed much archeaology. The church has historical value in that it post-dates the Abbey's foundation in 1096, but at the sametime is unlikely to be pre-mid C12 and therefore is one of the few early Medieval parish churches in the area to which a foundation date bracket can be assigned. The church is a successor to a late Anglo-Saxon structure known in the area from documentary sources and excavation (see ). St Giles graded C1c by

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> MENTION: unknown. unknown. SMR.
  • <2> DESC TEXT: RCHME. 1922. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex - Volume 3. Vol 3, pp.42-44.
  • <3> DESC TEXT: Pevsner, N. 1954. The Buildings of England, Essex. p119.
  • <4> DESC TEXT: Rodwell, Warwick J with Rodwell, KA. 1977. CBA Research Report No. 19 Historic Churches - a wasting asset. pp35-36.
  • <5> DESC TEXT: Crummy, P. 1981. Aspects of Anglo-Saxon and Norman Colchester (Colchester Archaeological report 1). No 39 (CAT Rep 1), pp40-44.
  • <6> DESC TEXT: Carter, WA. 1919. Notes on the Location of the Church of St Giles, Colchester. NS, Vol 25, pp213-220.
  • <7> DESC TEXT: Moore, SA. 1897. Cartularium Monasterii St Johannis de Colecestria. 62, 67, 87.
  • <8> DESC TEXT: unknown. 1971. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest:Colchester. p122.

Finds (3)

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Nov 3 2015 11:41AM

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