Colchester, in the historic county of Essex, is the oldest town in Britain.
Known to generations of servicemen as a garrison town, it is at Colchester that one can experience the breathtaking sweep of English history.
An important Roman town, it was the capital of civilised Britain, under Cunobelin, even before the Romans arrived. It subsequently became the first capital of Roman Britain.
Colchester, along with London and St. Albans, was one of the three towns destroyed by Boudicca during her furious rebellion, but of course all three towns were rebuilt.
While a few towns have extensive mediaeval town walls, those at Colchester are Roman walls, and include the famous Balkerne Gate.
The Norman Colchester Castle is the largest Norman keep ever constructed, and stands on the foundations of the biggest religious building ever built in Britain, the Temple of Claudius. The castle is now home to one of England's finest town museums.
The foundations of the earliest known Christian church in Britain are displayed just outside the town wall.
The impressive ruins of St. Botolph's Priory, an early Augustinian foundation, are also just outside the wall, as is the surviving St. John's Abbey Gateway.
There are several mediaeval churches, one of which, Holy Trinity, displays Saxon origins. Another, All Saints, is now a museum of Essex natural history.
The timber framed house known as Tymperleys was home to Wiliam Gilberd, who discovered electricity. It is now a museum of Colchester - made clocks and watches.
Another house, the elegant Georgian Hollytrees, stands beside the Castle and is now a museum of toys, costumes and general bygones.
The 15th century Red Lion has a fantastic carved frontage on the High Street, and opposite is the Town Hall, built in 1902 with a 162 foot tower.
The enormous Victorian Water Tower has always been known affectionately as Jumbo.
Colchester was the scene of a long siege by Fairfax and Cromwell's Parliamentarian forces in 1648, and in 1884 was almost at the epicentre of the most severe earthquake in England in centuries.
At Rollerworld is Europe's largest maple roller skating centre.
Colchester Zoo, on the outskirts of the town at Stanway, is at the forefront of breeding endangered species, including Siberian tigers and snow leopards.
Cunobelin, King in the pre-Roman days, was immortalised by Shakespeare in "Cymbeline", and is believed to have been the model for Old King Cole.
St. Helen, the mother of Constantine the Great, is said to have been born at Colchester, and the town's Roman name of Camulodunum almost certainly inspired Camelot.
Colchester has long been famous for its roses, and especially for its oysters.
The University of Essex is situated just outside Colchester, at Wivenhoe.
In George Orwell's novel "1984", an atomic bomb is dropped on Colchester in 1955, several years into the future when it was written.
Blue Badge Guide Colin Crosby is available to lead Guided Walks around Colchester for groups.
Events in Colchester
Places in Colchester
All Saints Church, Balkerne Gate, Bourne Mill, Castle Park, Colchester Castle, Colchester North Station, Colchester Town Station, Colchester Zoo, Dutch Quarter, High Woods Country Park, Hollytrees, Holy Trinity Church, Mercury Theatre, Rollerworld, Roman Walls, Scheregate Steps, Siege House, St. Botolphs Priory, St. Helens Chapel, St. James the Greater Church, St. Johns Abbey Gatehouse, St. Martins Church, St. Mary at the Walls Church, St. Peters Church, Tymperleys, Water Tower