Building record MCC396 - St Martin's Church, West Stockwell Street, Colchester
|Grid reference||Centred TL 99612 25344 (33m by 21m)|
|1848 Parish||ST MARTIN|
|Non Parish Area||COLCHESTER, COLCHESTER, ESSEX|
Type and Period (1)
12th century church, of flint rubble construction with a tiled roof, with possible Anglo-Saxon foundation.
The church of St Martin, West Stockwell Street, comprises a chancel with modern north vestry, aisled nave of three bays, with south porch, and west tower. The walls are of flint rubble with Roman and later brick, and the roofs are tiled. By the 11th century the church was probably a cruciform building with chancel, nave with north aisle, and transepts. The surviving west tower, which includes much Roman brick and may have replaced a central tower, was added in the 12th century. The tower, however, was severely damaged during the English Civil War siege of Colchester (1648) and was never repaired (hence the tower is truncated). The chancel was rebuilt in the earlier 14th century, from which date a piscina and probable Easter sepulchre survive; its roof is supported by an open crown post truss on arch braces with posts running down to the floor. In the 14th or 15th century the nave, north aisle, and trancepts were rebuilt and a south aisle was added; a hagioscope in the north aisle and the rood-loft staircase at the south-east corner of the nave survived in 1987. On the site of the 19th century vestry there was a 14th century north chapel whose south door survived in 1987. A south porch was probably built in the late 14th century, but was rebuilt in the late 17th century.<1>
For other building summaries see RCHME (including photo) <2>, D of E <3>, Betteley & Pevsner. <4>
Rodwell and Rodwell suggested the possibilty of late Roman or early Anglo-Saxon origins for the Church, due to the presence of possible Anglo-Saxon burials and Roman pottery, including four complete vessels.<5> Rodwell also notes "the uppermost layers against the south side of the building were destroyed by construction of an open drain in the 19th century. The digging of this drain revealed a foundation offset, capped by two courses of Roman brick, a feature which in this district is often characteristic of Anglo-Saxon building construction'. <5> The source of Rodwell's information on possible Anglo-Saxon burials, found during grave digging in the 19th century, is not known. A late Roman church on the site is unlikely, however, due to the improbability of Roman inhumation taking place in side the town walls and also given the non-funerary nature of the pots.<9>
Colchester Archaeological Trust have undertaken minor excavations at St. Martin's Church.<6>
By the 17th century the parish had declined. In 1748 the historian Philip Morant wrote that it was in a ruinous condition and that no services were being held in, and that inhabitants of the parish were going to St Peter's. A considerable restoration took place during the late 19th century, during which the architect Giles Gilbert Scott revealed the wagon roof in the chancel. An ambitious plan of restoration was later prepared by Rev Ernest Geldart, but it was never realised. The church then became neglected again.<7>
The church was made redundant in 1957 and the redundant Church has been under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust since 1996 and is now used as an arts centre.
A Bale watercolour of St Martin's Church c.1906 is held by the Museum.<8>
The chancel roof has been tree-ring dated to AD 1353-89. Chancel roof: no details. Nave tie beam dated to 1357-62. Decorated panel from chancel ceiling after 1348. see http://www.vag.org.uk/databases.htm (Tables of Tree-Ring Dated Buildings in England and Wales)
Three digital photographs of St Martin's Church, taken August 2016.<10>
- <1> SCC19 Monograph: Cooper, Janet (Ed). 1994. Vol. IX, The Borough of Colchester, A History of the County of Essex. Volume IX. p.323.
- <2> SCC3 Monograph: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1922. Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England): Essex, (North-East). Volume III. No 5.
- <3> SCC4 LIST: Department of the Environment. 1971. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest: Borough of Colchester (Essex). TL 9925 SE 5/222.
- <4> SCC72929 Monograph: Bettley, James and Pevsner, Nikolaus. 2007. The buildings of England: Essex. pp.267-268.
- <5> SCC69 Monograph: Rodwell, Warwick J with Rodwell, KA. 1977. Historic Churches: a wasting asset. p.30.
- <6> SCC188 Unpublished document: Colchester Archaeological Trust Ltd. 1985-1995. Colchester Archaeological Trust Unpublished Archive. 7/91c.
- <7> SCC75 Monograph: Morant, Philip. 1748. History of Colchester (Wire's copy).
- <8> SCC343 COLLECTION / PARENT: Bale, J. E. (Major). 1837-1913. Bale Collection. COLEM 1967.69.43.
- <9> SCC72824 Monograph: Gascoyne, Adrian and Radford, David. 2013. Colchester. Fortress of the War God. An Archaeological Assessment. p.160.
- <10> SCC72929 Monograph: Bettley, James and Pevsner, Nikolaus. 2007. The buildings of England: Essex.
Related Monuments/Buildings (1)
Related Events/Activities (7)
- Event - Survey: DOE Listing of St Martin's Church, Colchester, 1971 (Ref: ECC607) (ECC607)
- Event - Intervention: Excavation at St Martin's Church, Colchester, 1991 (Ref: ECC1004) (ECC1004)
- Event - Interpretation: Foundations of St Martin's Church, Colchester, 1900 (Ref: ECC2290) (ECC2290)
- Field Survey: Historic Building Survey of St Martin's Church, Colchester, 2003 (Ref: ECC3869) (ECC3869)
- Event - Survey: Pevsner survey of St Martin's Church, Colchester, 1954 (Ref: ECC2237) (ECC2237)
- Event - Survey: Survey of St Martin's Church, Colchester, 1922 (Ref: ECC730) (ECC730)
- Event - Interpretation: Watercolour of St Martin's Church, Colchester, 1906 (Ref: ECC1973) (ECC1973)
Record last edited
May 28 2019 10:46AM