If you happen to be walking past the orangutan enclosure at Colchester Zoo, keep an eye out for the ruins of the All Saints’ Church. Although a church or temple had existed on this site since the Roman era, the current church was built in the late 13th century, used to serve Stanway Manor which still stands in the zoo today as offices. The manor in fact is recorded in the Domesday Book!
Back in 1086 Colchester is recorded as having over 400 houses, making it quite a significant town for the day. Due to the collapse of one of the church towers in the early 15th century, the church was rebuilt using a combination of flint, stone rubble and red brick. The church was in use up to the Civil War, when the church was rendered useless for worship and in the 1650’s the roof was removed with the timber and lead being sold off. Since around 1700 the church has stood derelict, that’s until around 300 years when in 2007 Colchester Zoo undertook a two year restoration project, investing £180,000 into renovating it.