Building record MCC400 - Church of All Saints, High Street, Colchester


12th century church or likely earlier origin.


Grid reference Centred TL 99924 25203 (34m by 18m)
Map sheet TL92NE
1848 Parish ALL SAINTS


Type and Period (2)

Full Description

All Saints Church is 12th century or possibly earlier in origin on the south side of the High Street (opposite the Castle), now used as a Natural History Museum.<6>

DOE survey of Church of All Saints, High Street. Now Natural History Museum (Grade II). Late C12 nave, C14 chancel, good C16 west tower with knapped flint work. Restored mid C19.<1>

Field survey undertaken by RCHME of the Parish Church of All Saints. Detailed description given. See <2>

'All Saints, High Street. Natural History Museum since 1957. In an impressive position, its fine W. tower of flint, with diagonal buttresses and flint and ashlar decoration of the battlements, nicely closing the view E down the High Street. Big three-light bell-openings. Tower rebuilt c.1500 but retaining its C14 tower arch. Early C14 chancel and mid-C15 N. aisle, but the arcade belongs to the resotration by H.W. Hayward, 1854-5, when he also refaced the S. wall. N. wall repaired 1859. STAINED GLASS. E. window c.1869. Five N. windows by Ward & Hughes, 1861. Tower window by Kempe, 1905. All in situ but not visible inside. - MONUMENTS. Stone tablet with crocketed ogee top and indents of brasses; c.1500. Originally in St Runwald (dem. 1878). - Samuel Great d. 1706 and wife Susan d. 1722. Bulbous marble plate with cherub's head and cartouche. Both from St Nicholas (dem. 1955).<3>

The south wall of the nave was refaced in 1855 (prior to this it contained herringbone work in Roman brick). There is evidence for disruption of the Roman brick courses at the east end probably the scars left by the removal of an apsidal sanctuary. This is evidence for a three-celled Norman church. However, the chancel is more elongated than is normal for churches of this plan, prompting the suggestion that the present nave was added to a pre-existing 2 celled apsidal church. There is little room for doubt that the church predates the southward deflection of the High Street caused by the building of the castle in the later C11.<4>

The church is one of the earliest of the town's churches after St Runwald's from its High Street location.<5>

Rodwell and Rodwell (1977) state, 'It would be surprising if the foundation at least, did not make use of the underlying Roman walls (as with St Nicholas's)'.<4>

Digital photograph of Church of All Saints, Colchester, taken August 2016.<7>

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <1> LIST: Department of the Environment. 1971. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest: Borough of Colchester (Essex). TL 9925 SE 5/101.
  • <2> Monograph: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1922. Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England): Essex, (North-East). Volume III. No 2.
  • <3> Monograph: Bettley, James and Pevsner, Nikolaus. 2007. The buildings of England: Essex. p.263.
  • <4> Monograph: Rodwell, Warwick J with Rodwell, KA. 1977. Historic Churches: a wasting asset. p.30.
  • <5> Monograph: Crummy, Philip. 1981. CAR 1: Aspects of Anglo-Saxon and Norman Colchester. 1. p.74.
  • <6> Monograph: Gascoyne, Adrian and Radford, David. 2013. Colchester. Fortress of the War God. An Archaeological Assessment. p.229.
  • <7> Photograph: Tipper, J.. 2016. Photograph of Church of All Saints, Colchester. Digital.

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Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Nov 15 2017 12:54PM

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