Friday, 26 April 2013

Butt Road Roman Chapel, Colchester, Essex

In the mid to late 1970's a new police station was built in Butts Road and Colchester's oldest church and cemetery, and purportedly Britain's, was discovered. Dating back to AD 320-40 over 700 graves were uncovered, most of which dated back to the 4th century (others were from earlier pagan burials overlaid in later times), and consisted of a mix of wooden and lead coffins, hollowed tree trunks and various other materials.

It had an apsidal chancel and wooden N & S arcades which are shown by oak blocks on the site whilst concrete strips replace the missing foundations.

It is situated on a busy roundabout by a hideous police station, very little remains and it seems to be neglected - the information table was almost illegible - but this is still an extraordinary place outdating Essex's previously oldest church, St Andrew, Greensted, by 600 years; it's oddly atmospheric.

Whilst reading up on the Roman Chapel I found this site which catologues architectural atrocities in Colchester - it's not been updated since before Christmas and even though I'm not a resident of Colchester I do hope it keeps going.

Roman Chapel (1)

Roman Chapel

Roman Chapel (2)

Roman Chapel (3)

Obviously neither Pevsner nor Mee covered Butts Road as it hadn't been excavated.

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