All Saints Church - History



The original All Saints church, which is still standing as a ruin, is within the Colchester zoo area, and dates back to the 1840s. A study of the board in All Saints Church revealed all the priests in the parish since the first one in 1845, who was John Smith Dolby (1845-1864)

It is situated on the very busy road junction, with the staggered crossroads, where heading from town, Shrub End Road crosses Gosbecks Road off to the left, and Straight Road to the right, with the Shrub End Social Centre opposite on one side and the Leather Bottle public house on the other side.

The church was designed in the decorate style by D R French, and the red brick church has a tower with a slated spire.
A more detailed review shows - 

From what I have heard in the past, the original All Saints was situated in the grounds of the Colchester Zoo and this was backed up by an article on the Zoo’s website. It said that the ruins of All Saints (the former parish church of Great Stanway) stand in the grounds of the Colchester Zoo. 

An excavation was made by an Archaeological Solutions in January 2005 that revealed that fourteen strips, CAT excavated thirty-four medieval inhumation graves on the site of the proposed new orang-utan enclosure. The graves are probably late medieval, and the absence of coffins indicates a low status. Other features include two ditches, which may have been graveyard boundary ditches. The human remains are to be reburied on site. 

From information from the Colchester Business Forum it tells us about our current All Saints Church – it was by George Russell French 1844-45 to serve a new parish for the growing population of Stanway and Lexden. It was of hard red brick with Caen stone dressings. The nave, chancel and lower tower with splay-foot spire over the North porch.


In the North end there was organ chamber which was added in 1883 and to the south end, a choir vestry in 1958 with the nave extended in the West in 1982. It had a plain exterior enlivened only by the carved label stops along the North side; those at the North West end are portraits of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. 

Its fittings included reredos of marble and gold mosaic by John Hardman and Co. There are memorials to Edward Coope Fulcher who died in 1880, a stained glass window on the South side of the nave by Cox & Sons, 1878 a memorial to John Smith Dolby the first incumbent and another by James Powell & Sons memorial to Sunday School teacher, Edith M M Scarman who died in 1930. There was a wall monument to Thomas Joseph Turner of Little Olivers in Stanway who died in 1866 by L J Watts of Colchester. It was a significant church by a well-known architect who also had Essex connections, with addresses in Wanstead and Leytonstone. 

In the local history report, it included a piece of the house building within Colchester and it mentioned this area - Although the majority of houses built in Colchester in the early 20th century were private the council did build some houses in the 1920s. In the 1950s the council built estates at Shrub End and Monkwick. In the 1950s the army built the Montgomery estate. In the 1960s the council built Greenstead estate. Private houses were built on the St Johns estate in the 1960s. In the 1980s private houses were built at High Woods, North of the town.   

Over the years there have been several memorable events in the church, there was in the Flower Festival in 2004, but an earlier one had been held in 1976. A year later a resident of the area, became the town mayor, and a dedication service was held for him there. Also that year the choir were pictured outside the church door, where a figure head of the Queen and Prince Philip were fixed either side of the door in honour of their Silver Jubilee. 

Whilst the Reverend Chris was here a local firm Hatfields, supplied the church with a new carpet for the vestry, after the company was approached by a church member and it was that same firm that also sponsored the annual music gala that was put on in the Town Hall – Moot Hall.

Also whilst he was here, our parish was chosen to test out a new style of Anglican services. It was a scheme to revise some of the services that had been designed 18 years before. This change included a revised version of the Lord’s Prayer, Funeral, Marriage and Communion Service. 

A faithful church member had a few memories of the parish, a few that will be included in other parts. From her memories, there use to be very close links in the very past with St Michael Church, Berechurch Hall Road (a place where my grandfather use to worship in the early part of the 20th century), which has now become redundant.


She also believed that Plume Avenue URC was deeper in Shrub End and may have been in King Harold Road originally, but this could not be confirmed. Then there was a mormon church after 1964, but she was not sure when this was. All Saints was still known as Stanway, but was changed whilst the Reverend Lawrence was the vicar here.  

She has a photo of an old great great aunt and uncle who lived in a cottage belonging to Field Farm in Stanway which was off the beaten track between Layer and Stanway and near to where the ruined church of Stanway, which was approached by a cart track by the side of what is now the zoo. She felt another church member probably has recollection too from what her mother told her.

There must be some old knowledge of that old church somewhere. She visited them when she was four so saw the ruins then. Shrub End school was also connected she says, (she is correct in saying so as that saw my father walk there from his house with his brother and sisters. She verified what they did, my dad Harry, his brother Roy and sisters Ivy and Dorothy went from the round lodge which was close to the Army Prison Camp (MCTC) in Berechurch Hall Road and St Michael’s church and they went to the school which is now a centre on the left of Straight Road, as you head away from All Saints Church.