As I continued my long 2016 Boxing Day walk, I was in the Colchester High Street and going down West Stockwell Street. On the left hand side a bit further down from the Town Hall, is the graveyard area of St Runwalds church which use to be in the middle of the High Street. Further down on the right was one of the few churches that I managed to get into, St Martin’s. This was a 12th century church that has survived in its original Norman form. This is in the part of the town which is called the Dutch quarter. Currently it is administered by the Churches Conservation Trust, but there has been talk that another church denomination may take it over. Walking across St Helens Lane, I saw the Congregational Chapel and then in East Stockwell Street and across to Maidenburgh Street, it was the Greek Orthodox of St Helen’s Chapel. Going back up this road towards the High Street was the Castle Methodist. When I was of a younger age, I recall going to a carol service there, but at that time it was in the Culver Street area. Initially British Homes Stores went on the spot, where I think it was, but now it is the Primark Store.
In the High Street, where the Toy Store is, which has also been part of the Co-op shops and JJB Sports, use to be St Nicholas church and further down on the right opposite the Castle, is the site of All Saints church which is now a museum. As I completed my busy day’s walk, I went to two more churches in Colchester. Just off the inner bypass there was St Paul’s church and on the town side of North Station Road, behind the HSBC bank was the Seventh Day Adventist church. As my now so called freedom from work was continued, I went on another of my Anglia Plus weekly trips out. With this ticket I can have three days out in Norfolk and Suffolk in the week by just buying a daily return to Ipswich each day. On 27th December, I made my first ever visit to Newmarket. This meant a train to Ipswich where you changed and caught one of the hourly ones to Cambridge. This is a very odd station to reach, just a single platform, no facilities and a ticket machine and a shelter.
The town was a gentle walk of around ten minutes, where you passed the race track on the way. It had plenty of shops and the two churches that I saw this day were the Catholic one of Our Lady Immaculate and St Ethelreda in Exeter Road and St Mary’s in Church Lane. It was a day when I explored and tried to find my way about. Venturing up the road, beyond the Catholic church, I found the area where the jockeys were exercising their horses in a training area from the nearby stables. As usual the church was locked but from research, St Mary’s had been on the site since the thirteenth century but had rebuilds in the nineteenth.
With trains running on an hourly basis, I decided that after around 90 minutes, I was going to visit two churches on my way back, where I had not been before. With an Anglia Plus ticket, you have unlimited travel in the day, so I always try to visit at least two places on the day to feel that I have got my money’s worth. Visiting a place for a first time, you tend never to know where you will find things, so my first stop off point was Thurston and this was the best of the two villages to see. Initially I walked down the wrong road, but using information on my phone, I finally found the right road and direction and found the church of St Peter’s which was open.
Being Christmas the church was still decorated with numerous Christmas trees and there were plenty of stained glass windows too to take photos of. Researching the internet as I do, I found that there was going to be a rebuild in 1860 due to neglect when a tower fell. This affected the nave and the aisle roof. Ten days later and the rest of the nave collapsed. As a result, the whole of the church was rebuilt on a slight rise and on farmland on the edge of the village. The location of the two villages, I went to were between Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds on the Cambridge line. It was a church, well worth visiting.
Trains on that route ran hourly so I needed to be back in time to catch the next train. My next stop off point was to be Elmswell which was disappointing as first it was a half mile walk to get to the church there, and although it looked good, it was locked so I could not get in. This was an evangelical church where the tower was built in the 1470’s and restorations were made in the 1860’s and 1870’s. Then I returned back towards the station and had time to then go and find the Baptist church in Ashfield Road. A day later I had planned to go to Cambridge but with the weather not good, this was deferred. Rather than waste it, I ventured out in the fog and in the gloom, caught a number 2 bus to Great Horkesley and thought I found a chapel. Or that was what I thought it was in the dark and dim light and then back to the railway station for a 66 bus and went to West Bergholt and took a few photos of the new church of St Mary the Virgin which was open. Back in town, I then got a Chelmsford bound bus to go and look inside St Albright’s in Stanway. On what a truly nasty day, I then returned home again and back into the warmth of my house again.
With the weather clearer but very cold, the next day I did go off to Cambridge and it was the sight of a few churches in the City. Having got to Ipswich and connected on the hourly train, it was advised by a friend to always catch a bus at the rail station into the City. The place is always worth visiting with its many churches, colleges and the river view with the punts going up and down. On this day I saw the church of St Andrew’s the Great and All Saints in Jesus Lane, but I would return on another day to see a lot more. Needing to fit in another trip on my rail card, this time I was off on December 30th up to the Norwich area and it was a train to the village of Acle. Here I always find the church of St Edmund’s open and then it was back to Norwich to begin my tour of the City and there are certainly a lot of churches to see there.
It was a place that I knew well as I had done some Accountancy studies there in the 1970’s and also attended football matches there. I knew my way around generally and not normally get too lost. This time, my talk of Norwich will be brief but there will be far more in the next issue. Heading out of the rail station and down the main road towards the shops, off to the right in Recorder Road was the church called – the Greek Orthodox Christ of Mother of God. The main road into the city is the Prince of Wales Road and on the left was the Evangelical Free Church. When I make my trips out, I try to plan my routes and on this day, I went off to the left and found the Kings Community Centre in King Street. Opposite there was St Peter Parmentergate. This was a big urban church and it sits in an overgrown graveyard towards the Northern end of Ber Street and King Street area of social housing and rundown warehouses. The photos included in this magazine are of – the Greek Orthodox in Maidenburgh Street, Colchester, Our Lady Immaculate in Newmarket, St Mary’s in Thurston and St Edmunds in Acle. Copies of the full book 2 or any of my other travel days out can be made on request.