Colchester Area Guide
Colchester is a town steeped in history. It served as the first capital of Roman Britain and makes a claim to be the oldest recorded town in Britain. The Normans’ lasting legacy was the largest Norman castle ever built and remains the town’s key tourist attraction. Between 1550 and 1600, a large number of Protestant weavers and clothmakers from Flanders, fleeing persecution, emigrated to Colchester and the surrounding areas where they were affectionately referred to as the 'Dutch'. An area in Colchester town centre is still known as the Dutch Quarter and many buildings there date from the Tudor period.
During this period Colchester was one of the most prosperous wool towns in England. In 1648, Colchester was thrown into the thick of the Second English Civil War when a large Royalist army (led by Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle) entered the largely Parliamentarian (Roundhead) town. They were hotly pursued from Kent by a detachment of the New Model Army. The Roundheads besieged the town for 76 days. By that time, many of the town's most ancient monuments like St. Mary's Church and the Gate of St. John's Abbey were partially destroyed.
Colchester is the cultural centre of Essex. The cultural quarter at the end of the high street includes the Castle Museum, the Hollytrees Museum, with a large collection of clocks and watches; the Natural History Museum, in a converted church; the controversial — it went massively over budget — firstsite modern art gallery, in its striking new building, and The Minories, an art gallery run by Colchester School of Art.
Colchester’s lovely parks include historic Castle Park in the centre of town, housing Middle Mill former grain mill, and High Woods Country Park on the northern edge.
There are many good primary schools throughout Colchester but in terms of high schools then Colchester Royal Grammar and Colchester County High for girls Norman Way; both are judged “outstanding” by the the government’s education watchdog Ofsted.
The town is well served by various transport routes including the A12 which provides access into London. Colchester also offers a direct rail link to London Liverpool St which takes between 1hr and 1hr 05. On an average weekday, there are 109 trains travelling from London Liverpool Street to Colchester.
London Stansted Airport (STN) is approximately 32 miles away.