Thursday, 2 August 2012

St Giles, Colchester, Essex

St Giles was originally built on part of St John's Abbey cemetery around AD 1150 and contains work from every century since. It was declared redundant in 1956 and then used as a St John Ambulance depot until 1975 when it was converted into a masonic centre.

ST GILES, just off St John’s Green. Small; nave with chancel and N chapel. The W tower of timber, weatherboarded, as well as the present interior of the nave are of 1819. Thin N and S arcade shafts and W gallery. Box pews. Flat ceiling. The N windows however, with Perp tracery all straightened out, may well be the posthumous Gothic of the C17, as the Royal Commission suggests. Of 1907 (Sir A. Blomfield & Son) the brick N and S chancel arcades and the S chapel. But the brick S porch is original early C16 work. In the chancel E of the S arcade a C13 lancet window has been discovered. N chapel of c. 1500. - DOOR, N doorway, C14 with rich tracery. - PALL. Of the Lucas family, dated 1628. Purple velvet with embroidery; oval.

St Giles (3)

It was after the siege that two heroes of Colchester, Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle, were shot on the spot marked by an obelisk in the Castle Park. The siege had lasted 12 weeks when Fairfax pressed on the Royalist forces and ended it. Dogs, cats, rats, and horses had been eaten by the people, and not a crumb of food remained. Lucas and Lisle were led out to the spot marked by this monument, and Lucas was shot saying, "I am ready for you, rebels; now do your worst." Then Lisle was brought forward, kissed the body of his dead friend, and stood before the firing squad, which he invited to come nearer. "I’ll warrant you we will hit you," said one, and Lisle replied, "I have been nearer you, friends, when you have missed me." They lie in St Giles’s church, under an immense black marble stone which tells us that they were barbarously murdered in cold blood.

The medieval church of St Giles by the gateway of the abbey is chiefly interesting for its 17th century wooden tower, a 600-year-old door, and the graves of Lucas and Lisle. Framed in oak are copies of the brasses from their coffins.

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