Sunday, 24 November 2013

Essex References in Joseph Strutt's 'Manners': (11) St Botolphs, Colchester

Complete View of the Manners, Customs, Arms, Habits & Co of the Inhabitants of England, 1774, by Joseph Strutt.
Essex references
11.   St Botolphs, Colchester
Page 102

St Botolph's Priory, Colchester

“[Of the religious Buildings of the Normans … ]  The most antient Norman building I have met with, is the priory church of St Botolph, at Colchester in the county of Essex, which noble ruin merits the attention of the public.  The main wall is full 6 feet thick, faced both within and without with hewn pebbles of a large size; the immediate space between the facings is filled up with brickbats, tile sheards and small rough pebbles.  The small arches on the front, over the door way, which intersect each other, (See plate 30, fig 3) are composed of thin small bricks which project about 6 inches from the main wall.  The large arches, as well of stone, and over that they were faced on all sides with small pamments about 1 foot square, and 2 inches thick, which were all set edgeways.  There are several appearances of windows in the walls, which are very narrow, as was the constant custom of making them at that time.  The arched door-way is very remarkable on account of its stateliness and grandeur; the neatness and elegance of the workmanship in shaping and placing the bricks, (of which the facing is entirely composed) is almost incredible; in short, such in the beauty and awful appearance of the whole, that the beholder must be struck with pleasure and surprize, at the sight of this venerable and antient ruin.  Entering the church, we see the body which was very large, divided from two narrow aysles by six noble pillars, raised with stone and faced at every angle with bricks neatly ornamented.  Bricks at this period were held more ornamental than stone, as may be seen by such pains being taken in this building to cover the stone with brick facings.

“This priory was built by Ernulphus, a religious man, about the year 1110, in the reign of Henry the first, and dedicated to St Botolph and St Julian.  Ernulphus was chosen first prior.  I may also remark, that particularly in the great arches, and in the foundation of this priory, are a vast number of Roman bricks: but this will not be wondered at, when it is known that Colchester was a Roman station (1).  And it is a strongly disputed point whether it was not the Camalodunum, a great city of the Romans: though Camden and others place this city at Maldon in the same county.”

References: (1) See Morant Hist. of Essex and Camden in Essex. 

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