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St Peters Church, Colchester, COLCHESTER, Colchester District, TL99432523, Historical site only

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Site category: Earthquake damage

Site name: St. Peter’s Church, North Hill, Colchester (damage from 1692 earthquake)

Grid reference: TL99432523

The most severe earthquake in Essex was in 1884 when thousands of buildings were damaged in and around Colchester. However, there is evidence of a previous earthquake in Colchester in the parish records of St. Peter's Church on North Hill. The earthquake was on 8th September 1692 and the register records the damage to the central tower of the church.

The text of the entry is as follows:

On Thursday, Sept. 8, 1692, there happened about two of the clock in the afternoon, for the space of a minute or more, an universal earthquake all over England, France, Holland, and some parts of Germany. And particularly it was attested to me by the masons that were there a-plastering the Steple of St. Peter's, in this town, and upon the uppermost scaffold, that the Steple parted so wide in the midst that they could have put their hand into the crack or cleft, and immediately shut up close again, without any damage to the workmen (who expected all would have fallen down), or to the Steple itself. Most of the houses here and elsewhere shook, and part of a chimney fell down on North Hill ; and very many who were sensible of it were taken at the same time with a giddiness in their head for some short time. In witness of what is here related, I have hereto set my hand.

Robert Dickman, Minister of St. Peter, Colchester.

The British Geological Survey's Catalogue of British Earthquakes (Musson 1994) confirms that the earthquake, known as the Brabant Earthquake, had an epicentre between Brussels and Liege and was widely felt in the Low Countries, NE France, Germany and SE England.

Note in St. Peter’s parish register of 1692 recording the damage to the church as a result of the earthquake. Photo: Courtesy of the Essex Record Office


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Reference: Musson 1994

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