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Colchester
Colchester
Colchester is an historic town and the largest settlement within the borough of Colchester in Essex, England.At the time of the census in 2001, it had a population of 104,390. However, the population is rapidly increasing, and has been named as one of Britain's fastest growing towns. As the...

 in Essex
Essex
Essex is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England, and one of the home counties. It is located to the northeast of Greater London. It borders with Cambridgeshire and Suffolk to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent to the South and London to the south west...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, has a number of notable churches.

Butt Road Roman Church


During excavations in the 1980s for a new police station close to the Maldon Road roundabout, 371 Roman
Roman Britain
Roman Britain was the part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410.The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia, which eventually comprised all of the island of Great Britain south of the fluid frontier with Caledonia...

 graves and a long narrow building were excavated. The building was constructed between AD320 and 340. Oriented east to west, an apse
Apse
In architecture, the apse is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome...

 was added to the east end in a later phase. The building was divided by a wooden screen and two rows of posts ran down the eastern half forming aisle
Aisle
An aisle is, in general, a space for walking with rows of seats on both sides or with rows of seats on one side and a wall on the other...

s. The building has been interpreted on strong circumstantial evidence as an early Christian church. If this is correct, it is probably the earliest known Christian church in Britain. The remains have been preserved and are visible from the public footpath.

St Helen's Chapel



Dedicated to Saint Helena
Helena of Constantinople
Saint Helena also known as Saint Helen, Helena Augusta or Helena of Constantinople was the consort of Emperor Constantius, and the mother of Emperor Constantine I...

, the 14th Century Chronicle of Colchester states that the chapel was founded by the saint herself and refounded by Eudo Dapifer in 1076. Most of the present building dates from the 12th and 13th Centuries, incorporating Roman brick. Excavations in 1981 and 1984 in Maidenburgh Street, have shown that the Roman stone and brickwork under the north and east walls were part of a theatre
Roman theatre (structure)
The characteristics of Roman to those of the earlier Greek theatres due in large part to its influence on the Roman triumvir Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus. Much of the architectural influence on the Romans came from the Greeks, and theatre structural design was no different from other buildings...

. During the 14th Century, chantries
Chantry
Chantry is the English term for a fund established to pay for a priest to celebrate sung Masses for a specified purpose, generally for the soul of the deceased donor. Chantries were endowed with lands given by donors, the income from which maintained the chantry priest...

 were established in the chapel, but it was closed in 1539 after the Dissolution
Dissolution (law)
In law, dissolution has multiple meanings.Dissolution is the last stage of liquidation, the process by which a company is brought to an end, and the assets and property of the company redistributed....

 of St John's Abbey and it went into secular use. It became a house, a school, a library, a Quaker meeting-house and a warehouse. In the 1880s, the Round family who owned the castle, had the chapel restored
Victorian restoration
Victorian restoration is the term commonly used to refer to the widespread and extensive refurbishment and rebuilding of Church of England churches and cathedrals that took place in England and Wales during the 19th-century reign of Queen Victoria...

 by William Butterfield
William Butterfield
William Butterfield was a Gothic Revival architect and associated with the Oxford Movement . He is noted for his use of polychromy-Biography:...

. After use as a clergy meeting-room and a parish hall, it was used by the Castle Museum
Colchester Castle
Colchester Castle in Colchester, Essex is an example of a largely complete Norman castle. It is a Grade I listed building.-Construction:At one and a half times the size of the Tower of London's White Tower, Colchester's keep is the largest ever built in Britain and the largest surviving example in...

 as a store. Since 2000, it has again been used as a place of worship by the Orthodox Parish of St Helen.

St John's Abbey



The Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 abbey
Abbey
An abbey is a Catholic monastery or convent, under the authority of an Abbot or an Abbess, who serves as the spiritual father or mother of the community.The term can also refer to an establishment which has long ceased to function as an abbey,...

 of St. John the Baptist
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

, generally known as "St. John's Abbey," founded in 1096, had a beautiful late 11th century church until the Dissolution of the Monasteries
Dissolution of the Monasteries
The Dissolution of the Monasteries, sometimes referred to as the Suppression of the Monasteries, was the set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland; appropriated their...

 and the execution of its abbot
Abbot
The word abbot, meaning father, is a title given to the head of a monastery in various traditions, including Christianity. The office may also be given as an honorary title to a clergyman who is not actually the head of a monastery...

 in 1539. Now all that remains is the gatehouse on St John's Green, which dates from the 15th century, and the small church with a wooden tower (St. Leonard's) which was built for the layworkers on the site.

St Giles, St John's Green



Originally built on part of St John's Abbey cemetery around AD 1150, contains work from every century since. It was declared redundant
Redundant church
A redundant church is a church building that is no longer required for regular public worship. The phrase is particularly used to refer to former Anglican buildings in the United Kingdom, but may refer to any disused church building around the world...

 in 1956 and then used as a St John Ambulance depot until 1975 when it was converted in to masonic
Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

 centre.

St Botolph's Priory



The Augustinian priory
Priory
A priory is a house of men or women under religious vows that is headed by a prior or prioress. Priories may be houses of mendicant friars or religious sisters , or monasteries of monks or nuns .The Benedictines and their offshoots , the Premonstratensians, and the...

 of St. Botolph, generally known as "St. Botolph's Priory", was also established in the 11th century. This adopted the Augustinian Order in around 1200 and became the mother church of the order in Britain. At the Dissolution the priory church of St. Botolph became the parish church. It was also used by the Corporation on civic occasions until the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

. In 1650 the church was described as burnt and ruined after the Siege of Colchester
Siege of Colchester
The siege of Colchester occurred in the summer of 1648 when the English Civil War reignited in several areas of Britain. Colchester found itself in the thick of the unrest when a Royalist army on its way through East Anglia to raise support for the King, was attacked by Lord-General Thomas Fairfax...

, and it has been left in ruins. Until the construction of a new church in 1837, parishioners attended All Saints church instead, although burials continued in the churchyard.

St Mary-at-the-Walls


On Church Street, to the east of Balkerne Hill is St Mary-at-the-Walls, built against the Roman Walls and overlooking the western suburbs of the town. First recorded in 1206, the church has a notable history. It is the site at which 23 Protestant martyr
Martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

s were executed by burning
Execution by burning
Death by burning is death brought about by combustion. As a form of capital punishment, burning has a long history as a method in crimes such as treason, heresy, and witchcraft....

 during the reign of the Mary I
Mary I of England
Mary I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death.She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547...

 ("Bloody Mary"). During the English Civil War
Second English Civil War
The Second English Civil War was the second of three wars known as the English Civil War which refers to the series of armed conflicts and political machinations which took place between Parliamentarians and Royalists from 1642 until 1652 and also include the First English Civil War and the...

 the church tower was used as a gun emplacement by the Royalist
Cavalier
Cavalier was the name used by Parliamentarians for a Royalist supporter of King Charles I and son Charles II during the English Civil War, the Interregnum, and the Restoration...

 army, this resulted in its destruction by New Model Army
New Model Army
The New Model Army of England was formed in 1645 by the Parliamentarians in the English Civil War, and was disbanded in 1660 after the Restoration...

 siege batteries. The theory that the tower gave rise to the rhyme Humpty Dumpty
Humpty Dumpty
Humpty Dumpty is a character in an English language nursery rhyme, probably originally a riddle and one of the best known in the English-speaking world. He is typically portrayed as an egg and has appeared or been referred to in a large number of works of literature and popular culture...

 is now probably disproved. The tower of the Norman church remains, the rest was rebuilt in red brick in 1713 - 14. Philip Morant
Philip Morant
Philip Morant was an English clergyman, author and historian.He was educated at Abingdon School and Pembroke College, Oxford, eventually taking his Masters Degree at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge in 1729.Ordained in 1722, he began his association with the county of Essex with a curacy at Great...

, the Essex historian, was Rector from 1737 to 1770. There was a further major rebuild in 1872 In 1978, the parish was united with Christ Church in a new building in Ireton Road. The old church became redundant; the bell went to St Leonard's in Lexden
Lexden
Lexden is a suburb of Colchester, Essex, England. It was formerly a village, and has previously been called Lessendon, Lassendene and Læxadyne. Lexden is mentioned in the Domesday Book....

 and the organ to Brentwood Cathedral
Brentwood Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of St Mary and St Helen is the Roman Catholic cathedral in the English town of Brentwood, Essex. It is the seat of the Diocese of Brentwood.-History:...

. In 1980, the building reopened as the Colchester Arts Centre.

St. Martin's


St. Martin's
Martin of Tours
Martin of Tours was a Bishop of Tours whose shrine became a famous stopping-point for pilgrims on the road to Santiago de Compostela. Around his name much legendary material accrued, and he has become one of the most familiar and recognizable Christian saints...

 church still survives in its original Norman state. The church is located on West Stockwell Street in the old Dutch Quarter. Its tower was damaged during the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

 and was never repaired. Today the church building is in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust
Churches Conservation Trust
The Churches Conservation Trust, which was initially known as the Redundant Churches Fund, is a charity whose purpose is to protect historic churches at risk, those that have been made redundant by the Church of England. The Trust was established by the Pastoral Measure of 1968...

 and is used as a community venue. The key is available from the Colchester Borough Council museum service.

St. Runwald's


St. Runwald's church is one of only three churches were ever dedicated to the Saint in Britain. The church in Colchester formerly stood as part of "middle row" in the High Street. It was demolished, along with other buildings in the row, during the 1860s. The church graveyard is located in West Stockwell Street, behind the Colchester Town Hall.

St. Nicholas


St Nicholas church formerly stood on the High Street. The original church was 12th century and the church was rebuilt in the 14th century, and restored
Victorian restoration
Victorian restoration is the term commonly used to refer to the widespread and extensive refurbishment and rebuilding of Church of England churches and cathedrals that took place in England and Wales during the 19th-century reign of Queen Victoria...

 again between 1875-76 by Sir George Gilbert Scott
George Gilbert Scott
Sir George Gilbert Scott was an English architect of the Victorian Age, chiefly associated with the design, building and renovation of churches, cathedrals and workhouses...

. The church had the highest spire
Spire
A spire is a tapering conical or pyramidal structure on the top of a building, particularly a church tower. Etymologically, the word is derived from the Old English word spir, meaning a sprout, shoot, or stalk of grass....

 in Colchester. The church was demolished in 1955 by the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 authorities and the site was sold for commercial redevelopment. The Colchester Co-operative Society built at department store ("St Nicholas House") on the site. The building is currently used by JJB Sports.

All Saints, High Street


Declared a redundant church in 1953, now used as a Natural History Museum. Situated opposite Colchester Castle
Colchester Castle
Colchester Castle in Colchester, Essex is an example of a largely complete Norman castle. It is a Grade I listed building.-Construction:At one and a half times the size of the Tower of London's White Tower, Colchester's keep is the largest ever built in Britain and the largest surviving example in...

 at MapRef
British national grid reference system
The Ordnance Survey National Grid reference system is a system of geographic grid references used in Great Britain, different from using latitude and longitude....

 TL 999252. Pevsner states that there is little of interest beyond the flint decorated west tower, the rest having undergone much Victorian rebuilding.

Holy Trinity


Holy Trinity is the oldest surviving church building in Colchester. The church is located on Trinity Street in the town centre. Parts of the church tower are believed to date to around 1020 (the Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

 period) and an earlier church building may have existed on the site. In particular, there is a unique pointed Saxon doorway in the West side of the tower. The churchyard contains the burial places of William Gilbert, discoverer of electro-magneticism and physician to Queen Elizabeth I, and John Wilbye
John Wilbye
John Wilbye , was an English madrigal composer. The son of a tanner, he was born at Brome, Suffolk, near Diss, and received the patronage of the Cornwallis family. It is thought that he accompanied Elizabeth Cornwallis to Hengrave Hall near Bury St...

, the composer. Holy Trinity Church is now a cafe and youth venue for arts and music.

St James the Great


St. James the Great is a Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 church located on East Hill in Colchester. The oldest part of the church dates to the 12th Century. The nave, tower, and two aisles were built between the 13th and 15th Centuries. The chancel and the Chapels of Our Lady and St. Peter and St. Paul
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 were added around 1500. The radical priest John Ball
John Ball (priest)
John Ball was an English Lollard priest who took a prominent part in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381. In that year, Ball gave a sermon in which he asked the rhetorical question, "When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?".-Biography:Little is known of Ball's early years. He lived in...

, a leader of the Peasants' Revolt
Peasants' Revolt
The Peasants' Revolt, Wat Tyler's Rebellion, or the Great Rising of 1381 was one of a number of popular revolts in late medieval Europe and is a major event in the history of England. Tyler's Rebellion was not only the most extreme and widespread insurrection in English history but also the...

 of 1381 preached at the church. http://www.stjamesstpaulcolchester.org.uk/

St Peter's



Also still a church with a surviving bell tower, St Peter's in on North Hill and was built in 1758. The bells can be heard every Thursday in the town centre. The church is always open through the day and details of its history are available there.

Colchester Baptist Church


Built in 1834 in Eld Lane, on the site of Colchester's first purpose-built Baptist chapel of 1711.

All Saints, Shrub End


The parish church of Shrub End; formerly part of Lexden
Lexden
Lexden is a suburb of Colchester, Essex, England. It was formerly a village, and has previously been called Lessendon, Lassendene and Læxadyne. Lexden is mentioned in the Domesday Book....

, it became a separate parish in 1845. Designed in the Decorated style by D. R. French, the red brick church has a tower with a slated spire. MapRef
British national grid reference system
The Ordnance Survey National Grid reference system is a system of geographic grid references used in Great Britain, different from using latitude and longitude....

 TL 970232.

St Botolph's



The current church building was dedicated in 1837, It is built in the style of the old Norman building, with semicircular arches and Norman ornamentation and was designed by William Mason of Ipswich
Ipswich
Ipswich is a large town and a non-metropolitan district. It is the county town of Suffolk, England. Ipswich is located on the estuary of the River Orwell...

. The Church was nearly destroyed by fire during the 1943 air raids
The Blitz
The Blitz was the sustained strategic bombing of Britain by Nazi Germany between 7 September 1940 and 10 May 1941, during the Second World War. The city of London was bombed by the Luftwaffe for 76 consecutive nights and many towns and cities across the country followed...

. It had its own team of fire watchers
Air Raid Precautions
Air Raid Precautions was an organisation in the United Kingdom set up as an aid in the prelude to the Second World War dedicated to the protection of civilians from the danger of air-raids. It was created in 1924 as a response to the fears about the growing threat from the development of bomber...

 which dealt with several incendiary bombs.

The Garrison Church


Built in Military Road in 1855 to provide services to soldiers going to the Crimean War, this huge Grade II* listed timber church could hold services for 500 people. It is now St John's Russian Orthodox Church.

Colchester New Church



The Colchester New Church
Colchester New Church
Colchester New Church is located on 175-181 Maldon Road Colchester, CO3 3BLColchester New Church has as its theological basis the Old and New Testaments and the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. Colchester New Church is part of the General Church of the New Jerusalem.-Doctrine:The two...

 on 175 Maldon Road, was built in 1924. In 1967 the church building was expanded. The sanctuary was extended two metres in length, a new school room, and a new entrance porch were added. The designer of the new additions was architect Geoff P. Dawson.

Castle Methodist Church


Located in Maidenburgh Street next to Colchester Castle
Colchester Castle
Colchester Castle in Colchester, Essex is an example of a largely complete Norman castle. It is a Grade I listed building.-Construction:At one and a half times the size of the Tower of London's White Tower, Colchester's keep is the largest ever built in Britain and the largest surviving example in...

, this modern building was opened in 1970, but stands on the site of the "great round meeting house" where John Wesley
John Wesley
John Wesley was a Church of England cleric and Christian theologian. Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles Wesley, as founding the Methodist movement which began when he took to open-air preaching in a similar manner to George Whitefield...

preached in the 18th Century. A wooden pulpit that he used is preserved in the new church.