This post is going to be a bit different this week. With me being a perfectionist, I need to redo the photos for the next church I chose and now being back at work, it’ll have to be put on hold until after the weekend. But didn’t want to miss a week!
On Tuesday, I went to Colchester Zoo, with my boyfriend, and during our day of looking at the animals, we reached this corner of the zoo, and it had the ruins of a church in it. This was the moment where I was like damn! we should of brought the camera, so sorry if the photos are not as good, they were taken on my phone.
The ruins are quite a beautiful in person, and most of it is pretty much still standing, one of the best looking ruined churches I’ve come across. A church has existed on the site since the Roman times, it was actually until the 13th century the current church was built to serve Stanway Manor, by the Belhaus family who lived at Stanway between 1274-1375. The manor is dated in the Domesday book! Back then it composed of just a chancel and nave. A large amount of the original building collapsed in 1381, which lead to the church to be majorly rebuilt.
The church received great alteration during the 15th Century, with a new addition of the North Aisle, and the construction of the West Tower. And it still remains today. The materials used to build the church is flint, stone rubble mixed with limestone and red brick. By the 16th Century the church became a manorial church serving the family at Stanway Hall. Around early 17th Century the chancel, north aisle also the north tower was demolished, but it was later restored many years later by Sir John Swinnerton. But a North Porch was added, which still stands today with the West Tower and three nave bay. The reason behind the reduction in its size, was due its demise of a Parish church to become a private chapel.
The church was renovated by the Zoo, as part of the planning permission of the Orangutan Forest as it is a listed building. During the two year long, and the £180,000 cost of the renovation which was covered by the Zoo, it including removing ivory that covered the walls and making sure the building is structurally safe, they discovered a Medieval cemetery. After all the church was active for many centuries! Before the actual building of the Orangutan Forest could take place, many of these graves needed to be excavated by archaeologists. And to show how full this cemetery would of been, 34 graves were found with a area of 25m2.
Between seeing all the cute, and exotic animals, I would recommend you go and have a look at this little hidden church, right behind the Orangutan Forest, it will be on the map. Resources used for information was from plaques dotted around the church.
Hope you enjoyed reading my little filler post!