Colchester’s fantastic local heritage and unique history.

Colchester is the most ancient town in the country and is the former capital of England and Britain’s First City. It has a rich and varied history that can be explored today through its museums, ruins, and by walking its streets. It has particularly strong connections to both its Roman Heritage, and the scars left by the Siege of Colchester during the English Civil War.

The town is based on the Essex / Suffolk border and perfectly placed to explore the local area including Constable Country and the Essex Coast as well as further afield into East Anglia and London.

The History

In AD49 Colchester was the first place in Britain to be given the status of a Roman Colonia. A Colonia was a planned settlement for retired veteran soldiers who became citizens of Rome upon discharge, with all the privileges that Roman citizenship afforded.

This meant Colchester acted as a focal point for “Roman-ness” in the new province of Britannia and a beacon for transmitting Roman civilisation and values throughout the province. Which is why it was a target for destruction during the revolt against Roman rule led by Queen Boudica in AD60.

As Britain’s First City and the former capital of Roman Britain, Colchester has many important and unique Roman sites and ruins, but a lengthy history means there is plenty to discover from other eras of English History including the Normans, Tudors and Victorians who all contributed to Colchester’s story, as well as the English Civil War which made significant marks on the town.

There are more than 2000 years of recorded history to explore on a visit to Colchester. You will be able to discover information about Colchester Castle, the Romans, and learn fascinating facts about Colchester.

Where to visit

A must-see for anyone visiting the town for it’s history is a Norman keep built on the foundations of a Roman Temple destroyed by Boudicca, houses Colchester Castle Museum, home of many nationally important treasures including the recently discovered Fenwick hoard.

Alongside Colchester Castle Museum, you can discover the history and heritage of Colchester at numerous attractions around the town. From the ruins of the country’s oldest church to the winding streets of the Dutch Quarter where Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was written, there are stories to be found and discoveries to be made around every corner.

A heritage trail is available to purchase from the Visitor Information Centre, and there are regular guided walking tours exploring the history of the town led by a blue or green badge qualified Town Guide.

There are weekly tours departing from the visit Colchester Information Centre throughout the year, with extra tours in the summer months as well as occasional themed tours covering periods such as Roman Colchester and the Siege of Colchester.

Colchester today is full of fantastic visitor attractions waiting to be discovered. You’ll find a thriving and expanding town with plenty to keep you entertained for a day, weekend, week or even longer. the town has a strong cultural identity, with numerous galleries, theatres and arts venues as well as a bustling town centre with plenty of restaurants and shopping opportunities.

With the world famous Colchester Zoo, its own growing arts scene, and events for all ages happening around town, you can effortlessly explore the town’s history intertwined throughout the Colchester town centre.

Shopping in Colchester can be a fantastic way to unwind. In Colchester Town centre you will find yourself spoilt for choice, giving you a fantastic shopping experience. The town centre and beyond offers a range of places to eat, drink, and go shopping, from local produce and hand-made craft to high street chains and top class restaurants.

You can browse through the historic lanes of the town as well as enjoying the latest high street trends in its contemporary shopping arcades, making it a perfect trip to Colchester.You will discover regular market days held in and out of town, including the Colchester Market held weekly on Fridays & Saturdays on the High Street.

Cultural Venues

There’s no shortage of great arts venues. The galleries, theatres and arts centres always have something going on. Firstsite is the town’s contemporary art gallery, housed in an impressive golden building designed by award-winning architect Rafael Viñoly. With regular exhibitions, a cafe, cinema screen. The Mercury Theatre leads the way for plays and stage shows, producing original work as well as hosting nationally touring productions.
Nature Trail

From Constable Country to the Essex Coast there are fantastic wild sites just a short distance from the town centre.

How to get around:

Car Parking and Public Transport

There are several car parks located conveniently in the town. Access the shops located in the town centre by catching a bus. All local routes from surrounding areas will stop in the town centre.

If travelling from further afield, catch a train. Colchester Town Station is located in the heart of the town centre.

By Train: From Ipswich Station 18 minutes
By bus: National Express from Ipswich Station 40 minutes +44 08717818178
Ipswich Buses: 93 93A 94 1 hour 2m ( timetables are available on their website)