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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 1512: summary

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Historic building recording at B Mess, formerly the Officers’ Quarters, Le Cateau Barracks, Colchester, Essex: November 2013 and December 2019
by Chris Lister and Mark Baister

Date report completed: February 2020
Location: Le Cateau Barracks, Colchester, Essex
Map reference(s): TL 9935 2455 (c)
File size: 15612 kb
Project type: Historic Building Recording
Significance of the results:
Keywords: Le Cateau Barracks Colchester

Summary. A programme of building recording was carried out by the Colchester Archaeological Trust in November 2013 on building LEC 3 at the decommissioned Le Cateau Barracks on Colchester Garrison. Building LEC 3, which became known as the Sergeants’ Mess towards the end of the 20th century, was originally constructed as Officers’ Quarters for the 19th-century Artillery Barracks. LEC 3 is a Grade II listed brick building dating from 1874-5, with extensions and alterations dating to 1904 and 1922-62. The building is highly significant to Colchester for several reasons. It is one of the few surviving buildings of the early permanent barracks in the town, which evolved from the changes in military thinking that arose in the aftermath of the Crimean War; it has a direct association with the First World War, with men of the Royal Field Artillery stationed in Colchester taking part in the Battle of Le Cateau in 1914; and it has a high architectural merit, with elaborate decoration and fine fixtures and fittings, many of which survived intact.

Subsequent to the 2013 recording, the Officers’ Quarters suffered a substantial fire in April 2014, causing extensive damage to much of the interior and destroying many of the original fixtures and features for which the building was so notable. A secondary programme of building recording was undertaken in December 2019 to establish the extent of the damage and to record the degradation the building has undergone in the intervening six years since the original survey.