Colchester Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by arturowan
  • 0n campus - the garden!
    0n campus - the garden!
    by arturowan
  • Things to Do
    by arturowan

Most Recent Things to Do in Colchester

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    Colchester Arts Centre...

    by arturowan Updated Sep 25, 2014

    Colchester Arts Centre is housed inside the former Saint Mary's church, in the Balkerne area of Colchester...
    This means it is within a stroll from the Mercury Theatre, the town's other centre for the performing arts...
    All sorts of stage shows are performed at Colchester Arts Centre, from live music, to theatre, drama, & stand-up comedy...

    However, if performing arts are not your thing, Saint Mary's, & its beautiful, tree-surrounded, bird & squirrel inhabited, secluded churchyard, is still an essential see & do, if you are visiting central Colchester...
    When I was studying at Colchester Institute, I used to come here for lunchbreaks, when the sun was shining, & many workers from nearby offices & shops can be found sitting on benches, doing the same, any day of the week...

    Related to:
    • Music
    • Arts and Culture
    • Theater Travel

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    The Dutch Quarter...

    by arturowan Updated Sep 5, 2014

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    Colchester's Dutch Quarter is the town's most attractive archtectural area, which dates from Tudor times...
    Between 1550 & 1600, many weavers from the Catholic centre of the Netherlands, emigrated to the town, in order to escape religious persecution...
    Protestants were made refugees, having been defeated in a rebellion against the Catholic stronghold of Spain, so crossed the English Channel & settled locally, continuing in their trade...
    Flemish weavers were renowned for producing Bays & Says cloths, woven from wool, to the highest quality, & sold fairly, with an honest weight, as labelled...
    Bays is derived from the Latin; Badium, which means chestnut colour, as the undted fabric would have been coloured...
    Says was a form of serge, a very light-weight, cross-woven material, suitable for making linings, & prefered for ecclesiastical ware, such as habits & shirts...
    Although all the houses in this area are now listed for their architectural worth, the main tourist attraction is to be found at 11&12 West Stockwel Street, where Jane Taylor lived from 1796-1810
    A plaque marks the home where she wrote; Twinkle Twinkle Little Star...
    West Stockwell is as an attractive example of period English architecture as you will find anywhere, home to offices of solicitors & other professions...
    Colchester's place of worship in the Dutch quarter is Saint Mary's, built in the 12th Century, & damaged by cannon-fire during the siege of 1648
    The Dutch Quarter has altered little since the era when it was founded, & consequently has the narrowest streets in the town...
    Since the age of 'sat-nav' software, which gives the same route advice to commercial drivers, as well as motorists, there are regular instances of lorry drivers being directed into the Dutch Quarter, in order to take a short-cut into the town centre...
    Drivers of articulated lorries have run out of turning space, & required specialist recovery vehicles, in order to extricate their trailors from the narrow streets!

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Photography
    • Architecture

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    Colchester English Study Centre...

    by arturowan Written Sep 5, 2014

    Lexden, Colchester, is the educational locus of the town, with 3 secondary schools, & the Colchester branch of the English Study Centre, providing language tuition for those in the town with English as a second language...
    In a town where students arrive from Europe to study at Colchester Institute, & from all over the world, to live on the Colchester campus of Essex University, this facility is essential for the development of fluent English, in order to achieve successful quality of education...

    Welcome to England, girls! Lexden is an attractive area of town... 0n campus - the garden! 19 Lexden Road... Students-po-Angliski...
    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Business Travel
    • Study Abroad

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    Go to art school...

    by arturowan Written Sep 4, 2014

    If your ambition is to pursue a career in pop or rock music, then enrol in art school!
    Lennon & McCartney went to art school, as did most of The Rolling Sones - Brian Eno did as well, & spent some time at Colchester School 0f Art, as did local girl, Sade, he also went on to have an international singing career...
    0f course, you can also go there in order to pursue life as an artist!
    Colchester School 0f Art has an 'international reputation', & when I was there, had students from Netherlands, & Denmark (at the time it was still possible to travel from Esbjerg to nearby Parkeston, by ferry...)
    I attended the Colchester School 0f Art in 1985, & in my first year had the privilege of receiving direct tution form local artist, Ian Hay (see separate tip...)
    Experience of art school is largely dependant on the staff in charge, which can create a bipolar experience, depending on the quality of those available...
    Art school, in general, does suffer a bad image as a less than serious place for study, & I did not find some of the staff as inspiring as experts such as Ian Hay...
    Some of them rarely made an appearance, preferring to smoke cigarettes & drink cups of coffee all day in their office - not much incentive to be productive, when they do not even bother to learn your name!
    Another fundamental problem originating with staff, that I experienced in my 5 years there, was the absolute lack of any worthwhile careers advice or experience...
    This was promised with the course I started, but like other aspects of the curriculum, never materialised, & the attitude of staff in this regard was nothing less than pathetic...
    The general advice was to become an art tutor, because that is all you can do with an art school qualification!
    That is equivalent to telling an HGV license holder that all they can do is test further HGV applicants at the test centre!
    0nly those with an amazingly narrow experience of life could believe such a nonsense, but at Colchester School 0f Art I did encounter teachers whose outlook was frighteningly lacking in real-life experience - some of them were truly in 'la-la-land'...
    Experience is the greatest teacher in life, that is a fact, & there were a lot of experience opportunities lacking when I attended Colchester School 0f Art, & those i have met who have studied there recently, report that nothing has changed...
    In that respect I could not recommend attending this art school in order to advance your artistic ambitions, though maybe, from what the record reflects, it is the place to go in order to have a future in pop & rock music?

    Related to:
    • Study Abroad
    • Arts and Culture
    • Music

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    The Minories...

    by arturowan Written Aug 28, 2014

    The Minories is a Grade II listed, Tudor-era, redbrick building & gardens, registered with the Essex Gardens Trust, located at the end of the High Street, opposite the Hollytrees Museum (see separate tip...)
    Although the house posesses interesting architecture, the most intriguiging feature of The Minories is the Gothic Folly, intended to be a summerhouse, standing at the end of the garden...
    The gallery space has been operated by Colchester Art School since 2008, & features their graduates' exhibition, as well as an eclectic mix of old & new work, with an emphasis on local talent, such as that by tutors I have studied under, including Colette Magnus, & Ian Hay (see separate tip...)
    The Minories posesses some paintings by notable names, such as Harry Becker, who lived in the house while studying to be a landscape painter, as well as Lucien Pissarro, Cedric Morris, & Maggi Hambling...
    The Minories Garden Cafe is available for refreshments on site...
    0pening times - 10:00 - 17:00 Monday - Saturday (cafe closes 1 hour earlier...)

    Related to:
    • Music
    • Arts and Culture
    • Festivals

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    Hollytrees Museum...

    by arturowan Written Aug 28, 2014

    Hollytrees Museum is a free to enter, publicly-owned, Georgian old town house, that was occupied as a private residence until 1929
    It is named after 2 mature hollybushes, originally planted by owner Charles Gray, when the house was still known as Symnells, in 1729
    The Rounds family sold Hollytrees to Colchester Corporation, & it was first opened as a museum in 1929
    The exhibits are displayed over 3 floors, representing family life at home by the typical posessions to be found in an English house over the last 3 centuries...
    All sorts of artefacts are on display, from period costumes, to furniture, though probably the outstanding collection is that of childrens' toys & dolls...
    Since the closure of the town's Tymperley's Clock Museum, items from this collection are now being put on show at Hollytrees...
    0pening hours: 10:00 - 17:00 Monday - Saturday

    Hollytrees, from Castle Park...
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Historical Travel

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    Colchester Archaeological Group...

    by arturowan Updated Aug 28, 2014

    Colchester town is crammed with history from all ages - for archaeologists, it is 1 of the most important dig sites in the country...
    However, much of the potential area for finds, is buried under buildings, roads, & car parks...
    Whenever an old building is razed, before the next construction can take its place, there is usually a dig on the area of cleared ground, & the finds are often a revelation...
    The most recent such revealation at time of writing has ocurred on the site being developed behind the Williams & Griffin departmant store (see separate tip...)
    Fragments of Roman pottery were unearthed, still containing food identifiable as grains & pulses!
    This find is proof of the suspected burning down of Roman Colchester by the forces of Boadicea, in revenge for the invading armies brutalising & raping of her 2 daughters...
    The intensity of the fire that her Iceni tribe troops stirred around the Roman settlement, actually charred their food stores to the extent that it has not decomposed for nearly 2 millenia!
    Volunteers are sometimes able to attend digs, & even handle finds, washing & sorting fragnents of pottery, something I had the opportunity to do when I was at school in Colchester...
    Contact the Colchester Archaeological Group, who excavate in & around the town, for more details...

    Related to:
    • Archeology
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Historical Travel

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    Roman & Medieval Colchester

    by PeterVancouver Updated Jul 11, 2014

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    There are huge sections of the Roman Wall that can still be seen throughout the town. There is so much to see in this town so would suggest referral to the web site as below. A huge section of the wall can be seen on Baulkan Hill and whilst there why not call in for a lunchtime pint at the Hole in the Wall In the evening this is not the pub for you unless you are younger than 21 or have a love for some pretty loud modern music. This pub was built in 1843 at the same time as the railways arrived in Colchester. To get this prestigious site, we understand to give him a good view of the railway and Colchester Station, the landlord demolished a large section of the Roman wall - clearly this would not happen these days!

    Roman wall winding around the pub
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Road Trip

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  • Hot Air Ballooning

    by Ash86 Written Apr 13, 2012

    Enjoy the amazing views over Britain's oldest recorded town from the comfort of a hot air balloon. Depending on which way the wind is heading you may float over many of the countryside towns and villages in Essex - a spectacular day out.

    Related to:
    • Hot Air Ballooning
    • Adventure Travel
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

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    Colchester Zoo

    by PeterVancouver Updated Feb 5, 2012

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    Colchester Zoo has some of the best cat and primate collections in Europe. See a White tiger eye to eye in White Tiger Valley, or get closer to the Zoo's Chimpanzees at Chimp World.
    Other award winning enclosures include Penguin Shores for the breeding group of Humboldt's Penguins, Serengeti Plains for African lions and Kingdom of the Wild for giraffes, rhinos and Pygmy Hippos.
    If you haven't been to Colchester Zoo for a while you would hardly recognise the place, in the last few years we have added several new attractions, there's more facilities, new enclosures, interactive discovery centres, undercover picnic areas and new shops.

    Lot of areas within the zoo for a picnic
    Related to:
    • Family Travel

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    Visit the Zoo

    by joanj Updated Apr 5, 2009

    You will not be disappointed with a visit to this lovely zoo. They really do give their animals the best habitat possible. Each time I go back, I can see where the money has been spent.

    There are a lot more picnic tables and benches to sit and relax on(update 2009) and there are plants and shrubs everywhere, and this time I went (April 2009, ) the spring flowers were in bloom.

    I will upload a travelogue of the zoo to show you the habitats of many of the animals. Since I last visited, the Orang Utan enclosure has been finished, it has been a long time in the construction and completion, and the sole inhabitant has a huge outdoor area, as well as a large indoor area for him to stay in. The surrounding area of his enclosure has tree roots etc., that were dug out for the constuction, featured in a small garden area. I have taken photo's of this since is shows just how much Colchester Zoo is into conservation.

    If you book online there are savings for adult, child, concessions for pensioners etc., and you can print your ticket on line, thus saving waiting in a queue to pay as you go straight to the turnstile. There are also gold cards which will enable you go to as many times as you wish during the yearly period purchased. Please log onto their website for all the information regarding, times, prices, birthday parties, special days, adopt an animal, be with a keeper for a day etc. etc.

    Please look at the travelogue to see this lovely little zoo.

    Entrance to Colchester Zoo inside the zoo there is this very old ruin another angle of the ruin inside the zoo childrens train ride
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    • Zoo

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    History in abundance....

    by sourbugger Written Dec 29, 2008

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    As a city destination for a history vulture, a day trip or weekener to Colchester is worth investigating. It has the longest recorded history of any town in England. Even the historian Tacitus makes mention of it (he would have been great as a VT member). Roman remains therefore abound, although the most important 'must see' is the Norman Castle. Like all things in Colchester it resembles an onion or perhaps a set of Russian dolls in that there are any number a layers to uncover. The castle is built on Roman foundations and has many later additions.

    The town is also noted for is prosperity during the wool boom of the middle ages and its architectural prowess in the Victorian era. Much of this survived an earthquake (I promise I'm not making that up).

    Also has a well respected zoo.

    colchester castle
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Archeology
    • Castles and Palaces

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    Castle Park Gardens

    by joanj Written Sep 14, 2008

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    If you walk behind the castle and either down the path, or up on the grass slope, you can see the beautifully laid out gardens in the park.

    The best view, and the views which I photographed, were from the grass mound behind the castle.

    I have had to take 3/4 photographs as the layout is so wide you could not get it all in one frame. So the photographs are shown in order from left to right.

    Bandstand at centre back in the park Park cafe is right rear of the photograph

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    Tourist Office

    by joanj Written Sep 14, 2008

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    It is perhaps wise to start your visit to Colchester by visiting the Tourist Office. They have many leaflets, helpful staff, maps of the town, and books to purchase regarding the surrounding area and counties.

    The Tourist Office is fully carpeted, well laid out, plenty of space to move around,souvenirs and postcards to buy.

    After closing hours, there is a tv screen in the front window that you press by hand for information on where to stay etc. This gives phone number, locations, post codes for those visitors with Sat Navs.

    Colchester Tourist Office

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    16th Century - Colchester Castle

    by joanj Updated Sep 14, 2008

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    Visit the Castle or just walk around and take pictures if you are pressed for time.

    These are the beautiful gates at the entrance to the Castle Park and the Castle itself. On either side of the gates inside the park there are beautiful floral beds, and the 2nd photograph shows a floral display with the name Castle Park in foliage.

    The Castle has a facinating history, so please click onto the link below and read about it. There are various links to other museums too, but the History of the castle is the most important link.

    The Castle was first opened to the public as a museum in 1860.



    Oepning times all year round.
    Mon - Sat 10am - 5pm
    Sun 11am - 5pm

    Admission - 2008 prices
    Adult £5.20
    Child 5 - 15 £3.40
    Under 5 Free
    Retired and
    concessions £3.40
    Saver ticket - two adults and any two concessions, or one plus three - £13.90

    Group Rate - Adult £4.70 children £3.10 (applies to groups of 20 or more)
    group booking - 01206 282937

    Entrance to Castle Park Information board for the castle Rear of the castle
    Related to:
    • Castles and Palaces

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