Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Colin's Little Known Facts: Biggest Place of Worship Was at Colch

The biggest place of worship ever built in Britain was at Colchester.

No, it wasn’t a cathedral, as you would probably expect. It wasn’t a Christian church of any kind.

Neither was it a mosque, gurdwara, mandir – it had nothing to do with any of today’s major world religions.

The enormous place of worship in Colchester was the Temple of Claudius. The Roman Emperors were regarded as Gods in their own right, and Claudius, who visited Colchester with elephants once the Roman troops had over-run South East Britain, certainly filled the bill.

The history of the building was rather less than happy. Boudicca, the Queen of the Iceni, destroyed Colchester, London and St. Albans during her rebellion, and set fire to the Temple, where the defenders had retreated to as a last resort. They were all burned alive.

When the Normans built Colchester Castle, they built the keep – the largest ever built anywhere – on the foundations of the Temple.

When visiting Colchester Castle, which has a splendid museum, it is possible to visit the Roman crypt.