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 and the inhabitants were reduced to eating candles and boots. When the Royalists surrendered in the late summer, Lucas and Lisle were shot in the grounds of Colchester Castle. In 1884, the Colchester area was at the epicentre of the UK's most destructive earthquake, estimated to have been 5.2 on the Richter scale, and lasting for about 20 seconds. The quake was felt over much of southern England and into Europe, and more than 1,200 buildings were destroyed or damaged. Since then, life in the town has remained largely peaceful!


Colchester today is a thriving, modern town bursting with attractions and activities to suit every taste, including Colchester zoo and Colchester Castle.  Explore nearby countryside for a  breath of fresh air including Constable Country in the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Mersea Island, home of the famous Colchester native oysters. Colchester also offers great retail therapy and fantastic places to eat and drink. Browse through quiet streets lined with small specialist shops and restaurants. There is an abundance of excellent restaurants offering cuisine from around the world.  For culture seekers, discover interesting public art in unexpected places and historical treasures in award-winning museums. The Castle Park and Highwoods County Park are fabulous ‘green lungs’ within the town. 

If you want to travel further afield, London can be reached inside the hour on the train, while the port of Harwich is just 15 miles away and Stansted airport 30 miles away.

Property profile 

As befitting a town the size of Colchester and which lays claim to being one of the fastest growing towns in the country, the choice of property is vast. From small, bespoke town centre regeneration programmes to large edge of town developments and waterfront re-development at the Hythe, new and newish homes are plentiful. These newer homes are complemented by an established older stock, offering everything from Victorian first-time buyer homes to imposing family homes in the popular Lexden area of town. Whatever your requirements, Colchester is a town which can deliver.

Useful links

Colchester Borough Council

Rightmove School Checker

Visit Essex