The place has changed beyond all recognition, and my still quite vivid memories don't fit in with the current surroundings in any shape or form. Back in the day it was all a lot smaller, and in those unenlightened times, so were the cages. And 'cages' are a thing of the past now too, it's all glass fronted 'enclosures' now. There is also much more of a 'theme park' feel to it these days, but I guess that's what you have to do to compete with so many other attractions.
In the 1970's this place was 25 acres, now has spread to over 60. But in more than doubling the size of the zoo, there's obviously been a few causalities over the years, and one of them stares you in the face, the moment you set foot outside the 'Orangutan Forest' enclosure. There, right in front of you are the ruins of an 800 year old church - All Saints. I certainly don't remember that being there in the 1970's!
But just like when Tesco open up a superstore, and immediately nicks all the local clientele, a new church - St Albrights - was built in 1580 in the heart of the community, and the locals all jumped ship. All Saints church soon became a private church, for the exclusive use of the residents of Stanway Manor. As a result, the building went through a number of alterations in the early 17th Century, to reduce it's size. The Chancel and North Tower were removed, and the North porch was added.
the Chancel would have been here, where the bushes are now!
view from inside
Where the Orangutan Forest now sits, turned out to be a very heavily populated ancient graveyard. But as ancient graveyards aren't covered in the same way as ancient buildings, these were all quickly yanked out and disposed of.
As someone who is more than a little brow-beaten by the recent regular, endless sights (and lets not forget those smells!) of animals, I find this little piece of history fascinating, and a welcome diversion. But it's a real shame that anyone else with an interest, now has to shell out fifteen odd quid in order to get through the gates to see it.