Although I have not been to the zoo myself, my daughter-in-law has, and has voted it a great day out for children.
You can get a Gold Card Annual Pass before you visit, free entry to the zoo for a full year, complimentary entry to Marwell, Paington, Rotterdam, Bristol and Edinburgh Zoos, 10% discount in all the zoo shops and garden centre on presentation of your Gold Card (on selected items) copies of "Zoo Matters" Colchester Zoo's Card holders newsletter.
There is free car parking.
Telephone -1206 331292
The water tower in the centre of Colchester has been affectionately known as "Jumbo" since 1882, before it was even built. The tower dominates the centre of the town, and can be seen for some distance in all directions.
It was built to try an alleviate the problem of water shortages for fire-fighting in the centre of the town, and the tank at the top could hold 220,000 gallons of water.
Jumbo became redundant in 1984, and since then there have been many arguments what to do with it. Several applications to turn it into flats have been turned down, and in the meantime it is gradually falling into decay.
Jumbo is a listed building (Grade II*), and was added to English Heritage's Buildings at Risk register in 2004.
Colchester: Britain's Oldest Recorded Town
"Colchester: Capital of Roman Britain"
Colchester goes all the way back to very ancient times. It played a key role in Britain's early history. It was founded by Cymbeline, a Celtic chief. In 43 CE, when the Romans conquered the island, it became their capital.
In 60 CE, Queen Boudicca of the Iceni tribe led a revolt against Roman rule. The rebels trapped a large number of Romans and their allies in the temple at Colchester and burned them all. Then, in 61 CE, a Roman legion came across the channel and defeated Boudicca. She fell on her sword rather than be captured alive by the Romans.
After the Norman conquest, the Normans built a castle on the foundations of the old temple, by then only a ruin. The castle remains there to this day, and is the town's main tourist attraction.
Colchester remains a prosperous town with good shopping and lively entertainment. It's a good place for a weekend trip or a day visit from London.
A Brief History of Colchester
If history had turned out differently, Colchester could have been the capital of England instead of London. Indeed, at the time of Queen Boudica in AD60, it was the capital, although its name then was Camulodunum.
Colchester is rightly aclaimed as Britain's oldest recorded town. In AD77 a Roman writer by the name of Pliny the Elder described the location of the Isle of Anglesey as being 'about 200 miles from Camulodunum, a town in Britain'. This was the Roman name for Colchester and is the earliest known reference to a fixed settlement in Britain, hence the claimto be Britain's oldest recorded town.
When the Roman Empire invaded Britain in AD43 they made the capture of Camulodunum one of their main priorities.. They quickly subdued the local defenders and built a fortress at the settlement. By AD49 the Romans mistakenly thought they had nothing to fear from the local tribes and the fortress became a civilian settlement populated mainly by retired soldiers and their families. It was named Colonia Claudia in honour of the Emperor, the first capital of the Roman Province Britannia.
In AD54 Claudius died and the Romans built the Temple of Claudius to worship his memory. The temple was razed by Boudica and her army in AD60. After Boudica was defeated, the Romans returned to Camulodunum and this time built a defensive wall around the town of which about two-thirds can still be seen today. The Roman rule of Colchester was to last for over 400 more years.
When the Normans arrived, they found a busy port and market town at Colchester and, concerned of the risk of an invasion from Scandinavia, almost immediately started construction of a stone castle, one of the first ever built in England.
The castle, having seen very little military action in its lifetime, is still in excellent condition and is open to the public to visit. Its Keep is the largest ever built by the Normans and pre-dates the Tower of London. It is situated in the grounds of Castle Park (opened in 1892). Still below the castle are the remains of the foundations of the Roman Temple of Claudius, which can be seen on a guided tour.
The castle played a central role in 1648 when Colchester was put under seige during the English Civil War. At the rear of the castle there is a monument which marks the spot on which two Royalist commanders, Lucas (not believed to be one of my ancestors) & Lisle, were executed by a Parliamentarian firing squad when the town eventually fell.
Most of the above historical information is taken from one of the several websites documenting the history of Colchester.