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Colchester, England

Colchester Reviews

joseph98 joseph98
129 reviews
A town rich in history May 03, 2016
An easy day trip from London at just over an hour away by train, the somewhat dowdy town of Colchester makes itself worthy of a visit by virtue of its rich history, as exemplified by its imposing castle keep. It’s bigger than the one at the Tower of London, don’t you know! Whilst the official tourist website is keen to proclaim that it is ‘more than Britain’s oldest recorded town’ (for that it is), the fact is Colchester would be a pretty ordinary place without the historical interest.

But the historical interest is engaging indeed, and it is with good reason that Colchester Castle is the place that visitors flock to. Set amid pretty parkland, the impressive structure houses an excellent collection that rivals any you will find in the UK. Spread across two floors that split up the history in the Roman and before age on the first floor, with the medieval age and beyond on the ground floor, the exhibits are well-preserved indeed.

Standouts include remarkably well-preserved Roman noblemen gravestones, several mosaics and a grave site of what is believed to be a Druid, and there are also very informative exhibits on the two times Colchester suffered during two separate wars (during Boudicca’s Celtic revolt and a siege during the English Civil War respectively).

However, what really makes it all work are the hands-on, kids-friendly interactive exhibits, ranging from a chariot race simulator, through to a build your own medieval archway and more than one dress-up opportunities. Best of all is the AV show that is periodically projected on to the hall, which charges through the entire history of Colchester with colourful graphics and lively music.

There are several churches dotted through the town, the most visually impressive being the half ruin of St Botolph’s Priory, not least because it dates from the 11th Century and has the distinction of being the first English Augustinian Priory Church. A more modern church sits nearby, but the craggy ruin of St Botolph’s is the more atmospheric.

Bringing things up to date, the most interesting site from a modern point of view is the Firstsite exhibition centre, a contemporary arts centre which showcases a range of artists, as well as laying on a space for kids to create their own pieces. When I visited I was able to see an exhibit on Andy Warhol, including examples of his iconic artwork as well as three screens showing some of his famous ‘screen test’ mini-films on a loop (celebrities filmed sitting still for the camera in the footage here included Bob Dylan, Susan Sontag and Lou Reed).

If you are staying longer than a day then there are a couple of other museums in town, a zoo and a few villages in the surrounding area to explore. Ultimately, though, from a visitor’s point of view, Colchester is probably best visited as a day trip, which is plenty of time in which to see its highlights.
Colchester Castle
3 / 3 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
joseph98 says:
Couldn't have out it any better myself Bill :-)
Posted on: May 04, 2016
Zagnut66 says:
Towns like this are fun to visit, full of history yet seemingly bypassed by history as well.
Posted on: May 03, 2016
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