Views of Historic Colchester

Britain's Oldrest Recorded Town

Colchester is Britain's oldest town and rich in Roman, pre-Roman, Celtic and Medieval history with fascinating sights around every corner.

Castle Museum

A visit to Colchester Castle is better than ever before with interactive displays and star exhibits, like the Colchester Gladiator Vase and Fenwick Hoard of Roman treasure. Have a go at building a Norman archway, dressing as an Iron Age Briton or steering a Roman chariot. Be wowed as a large scale projection transforms the east wall with light and sound. Tours, led by expert guides, are offered daily and can take you down into the Roman vaults and up onto the Castle roof. 

Find out more (including opening times and charges) at the official website.

Colchester Roman Circus

Colchester is the only known site of a Roman Circus chariot Racing Circuit in Britain, showing how important Colchester was to the invading Romans. This fascinating ruin is open at various times throughout the year and is best to check on the website.

Colchester Castle Dungeons

Sounds add atmosphere to the dungeons which were the scene of the torture by the notorious "Witch Finder General", Matthew Hopkins. Over 200 "witches" were tortured and made to confess to their "crimes".

A sad period in the history of Essex and make sure you see the plaque in the castle ground that is a monument to those that suffered.

His book on the detection of witches was used in the notorious Salem Witchcraft trials in colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693. More than 200 people were accused, 19 of whom were found guilty and executed by hanging

The plaque points out that many died while awaiting trial while much of the "evidence" was based upon superstition, ignorance and hysteria and concludes with

"This plaque is placed as a memorial to them all and in the hope of an end to persecution and intolerance."

Castle Grounds

Under one minute from The Castle Inn is the tranquility of the castle park, a beautiful green area divided into the Upper Park and Lower Park by the Roman Wall that crosses through it east to west. The park spans an area of 11 hectares and is listed Grade II in the English Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Importance.

Many events occur in the park from miltary music, pop concerts, beer festivals, family days and much more and it is a great picnic area and safe for children to run and play in the children's area. Don't forget to bring a bag od nuts for the very tame squirrels!

Check what's on at the website.

 

St Botolph's Priory

The Augustinian priory of St Botolph, generally called "St Botolph's Priory", was also established in the 11th century. This adopted the Augustinian Order in around 1200 and became the mother church of the order in Britain. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries the priory church of St Botolph became the parish church. It was also used by the Corporation on civic occasions until the English Civil War. In 1650 the church was described as burnt and ruined after the Siege of Colchester, and it has been left in ruins.

Dutch Quarter

Colchester's picturesque Dutch Quarter is located just north of the High Street and includes: Maidenburgh Street, West Stockwell Street, East Stockwell Street, Stockwell Street, St Helen's Lane, Northgate Street and Nunn's Road and less than 5 minutes from the Castle Inn.

It was the 16th century home to Flemish Protestant refugees fleeing religious persecution having been defeated in a rebellion against Catholic Spain. The houses pre-date the Dutch arrival and was formerly inhabited by the Jewish community and other immigrants.

Flaxford Mill

Just outside Colchester is the beautiful 16th bentury thatched cottage by the River Stour. In the heart of the Dedham Vale, this is a quintessentially English rural landscape and made famous location for John Constable's idyllic pastoral paintings which now houses an exhibition on the artist.

The river is an area of stunning beauty and details of the museum's opening times can be found on the National Trust's website.

 

Balkerne Gate

Balkerne Gate is a 1st-century Roman gateway It is the largest surviving gateway in Roman Britain and was built where the Roman road from Londinium (London) intersected the town wall. It is a Grade I listed building.

It was built c. AD 70–96. The gatehouse, which originally had two main arched passageways with separate arched footways on both sides, has largely disappeared. The remaining gateway which we see today is the south-side arched footway; however, the remains of a guard tower are also visible.

St John's Abbey Gate

Dating from the 15th century this fine flint flushwork gatehouse just off St John's Green has a vaulted interior. It was the entrance to St John's Abbey precinct (demolished during the 16th century Reformation). The gatehouse is the only surviving structure above ground.

Jumbo Water Tower

Well you just can't miss it, located at the end of the High Street. Jumbo Water Tower is at the Balkerne Gate. The tower was nicknamed "Jumbo" after the London Zoo elephant as a term of derision in 1882 by Reverend John Irvine who was annoyed that the tower dwarfed his nearby rectory at St. Mary-at-the-Walls.

Construction took around 20 months and was completed in 1883. 1,200,000 bricks and 819 tons of stone and cement were used in the construction of the tower. The tank is constructed of cast-iron bolted panels and when it was in use could hold 1069 cubic metres (37,800 cubic ft) of water. It was claimed at the time to be the second largest water tower in England.

Inside the central pier are 157 steps to a cupola which at 35.37 metres (116 ft) above ground offers views a long way over Colchester and the surrounding area.

After a century of service the water tower became superfluous to the water supply system and was sold off by Anglian Water in 1987. It has had multiple owners since. In 2001 after prolonged controversy permission was granted on appeal to replace the tank with a glass walled penthouse, but work on this never started and permission expired. In 2006 at the height of the UK property boom, Jumbo was sold at auction for £330,000 to a local developer. In 2008 a local charity was formed with the aim of restoring the Grade II* listed tower and making it a heritage attraction with guided public access.

Shopping and the Town Centre

Well when you've had enough of history do not forget that Colchester has all the shops you know and many querky shops in quaint streets.

Start with something to eat and drink with us (naturally) as we are minutes from everything.

Then head to our shopping malls

 

or really interesting shops in medieval streets and squares. We've got it all.

University of Essex

The University of Essex was established in 1963, welcomed its first students in 1964 and received its Royal Charter in 1965. Essex's motto, "Thought the harder, heart the keener", is adapted from the Anglo-Saxon poem The Battle of Maldon.

Essex's largest campus is the Colchester Campus within Wivenhoe Park, less than a mile (1.6 km) from Wivenhoe and two miles (3 km) from Colchester. There is also a campus in Southend-on-Sea and East 15 Acting School is based at the Loughton Campus.

Essex has collaborative partnerships with 18 institutions around the world. UK partnerships include Kaplan Open Learning (provider of University of Essex Online), Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and University of Essex International College. International partnerships include a franchise arrangement with Kaplan Singapore and double and dual degrees with several universities in Europe and Asia.

Essex has produced many notable alumni in several fields, including two Nobel Laureates, prominent scientists, artists, and politicians. In addition, there are two former academics who are Nobel laureates.

Castle Inn Colchester

92 High Street, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1TH
  01206 563988
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