AN ancient gatehouse which has remained a proud monument of Colchester’s history since the 15th century has suffered damage at the hands of developers.

St John’s Abbey Gate, in St John’s Walk, is all that remains of the Benedictine abbey of St John the Baptist.

Rachel Gill, who is a member of the nearby Colchester Officers’ Club, said housing firm Taylor Wimpey chipped a chunk of stone out of the gatehouse wall while installing kerb stones last Friday.

She said: “They have been putting some kerb stones in and instead of cutting a stone they have cut a chunk of ancient wall out.

“I have lived in Colchester all my life and I absolutely love the gate.

“It is really shocking and distressing it has been damaged. It is priceless, a piece of history which must be protected.”

Taylor Wimpey is planning to close the gate to cars and other vehicles, instead building access to the officers’ club car park from Flagstaff Road.

The developer hopes to open up the gate to pedestrians instead, encouraging people to walk through and enjoy extensive views across Colchester while admiring the historic gatehouse.

Rachel added: “I know they are making a rose garden and are planning to shut the gate from car access.

“English Heritage already open the gatehouse to the public on one day a year.

“People travel from far and wide to see this monument and I would welcome any steps to make it more accessible to people.

“I accept Taylor Wimpey has done some great work in the area and I am excited about their plans.

“It shouldn’t come at the cost of damaging such an ancient structure.”

A Taylor Wimpey spokesman said the damage had been minor, with repairs already underway after talks with their contractors.

He said: “One of our subcontractors was installing new path edgings adjacent to the Abbey Gate when the edging caught the Abbey Gate wall.

“This resulted in some very minor damage with a small piece of stonework peeling away.

“We contacted our renovation company, Bakers of Danbury which is approved to work on English Heritage buildings, to inspect, report and carry out repairs.

“We have meetings planned with both Historic England and English Heritage to complete the sign off of the works around the gate.

“On completion of these works a bollard will be installed at the gate’s entrance to stop any further vehicular access, and it is intended that within the next three weeks all vehicle access will cease.

“To ensure vehicles do not attempt access from the other side of the gate, a bollard is to be installed in the approach road, pending approval.”