Saint Helen of Colchester, Colchester, Essex

General Details

Type

Church

Archdiocese

Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Western and Central Europe

Diocese

Deanery of the United Kingdom and Ireland

Head Priest

Metropolitan John

Priest

Father Alexander Haig

Feast Day

May 21 - St Helen and St Constantine, Equal to the Apostles

Second Feast Day

August 8 - St Helen

Historical Details

Build - Founding Year

750?

History

Possibly in the eighth century the English King Offa of Mercia (the midlands of England), who was overlord of Essex, and by then a Christian, came to Colchester, and built the small St Helen's Chapel within the ruined walls of the Roman theatre. Certainly the Chapel is on the Roman first century foundations of the theatre, which can be seen just above ground level: probably the core of the lower part of the walls of the Chapel is Roman too. At all events, when the Normans, after their conquest of the English in 1066, decided to build a castle here, to keep the Saxons quiet, and to defend against marauding Danes. They did this in 1076, on the foundations of the ruined Roman Temple of Claudius. At the same time, 1076, we know they restored St Helen's Chapel. This clearly indicates that the Chapel was very old by then, needing considerable repair. The Orthodox Parish of St Helen had been established in 1996, and had been looking for its own premises ever since. The Borough Council, fully sympathizing with the Parish's need and perhaps rather shameful of keeping such a building from the public, agreed to release it to the Parish. The building remains in the ownership of the local Church of England diocese, which happily gave its consent to the arrangement. Our Parish is intensely grateful to all those who have made it possible for us to have this ancient and lovely church. We are very aware of the privilege we have in using it. We are delighted that we have able to restore it to its ancient and proper purpose of Christian worship after a break of nearly 500 years - and, from the Orthodox point of view, to restore it to Orthodox worship after a period of nearly 1000 years!

Affiliations

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  • Margaret as Supporter

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