It is thought that there has been a place of worship on this site since Anglo-Saxon times, possibly Roman times. As is common in England, little remains of any pre 11th century building.
St Martin’s was the parish church for what we now know as Colchester’s Dutch Quarter.
The existing building of flint rubble and Roman brick probably dates from the 11th century with subsequent addition of the west tower and rebuilding of the other parts in the 14th and 15th centuries.
A later restoration took place in the 1880’s, including work to the chancel roof by the renowned architect Sir George Gilbert Scott at his own expense.
The west tower has a unique appearance. The structure had already partly collapsed before the siege of 1648 but the besieging artillery caused more destruction and, whereas other town churches’ towers were later rebuilt, the tower of St Martin’s is still as it was left after the siege.
For those who know Colchester well, St Martin’s is one of the most serene places in the town centre, particularly on a sunny day. It is important that we preserve that atmosphere and welcome many more people to experience St Martin’s.
St Martin the Merciful was a 4th century Roman army officer who later became a monk, founding the first monasteries in France. Later he became Bishop of Tours and was much loved for his preaching of the Orthodox Faith, for healings and for acts of care. He died in 397 AD and monks continued to work in his fashion.
Although he probably never visited Britain, it is said he was confessor to another British St Helen, wife of the Emperor Magnus Maximus (383-388) and that St Ninian of Scotland was a disciple of his.