Dedham Art & Craft Centre / St Botolph's Priory / James and the Giant Peach at Mercury Theatre

Itinerary Idea: Colchester's Art & Culture

Art & Culture Walking Route

Explore Colchester's Modern Art scene in the Town Centre, or wander through 2000 years of historic sites to discover Colchester's rich heritage.

 

 

Download a Street Map of Colchester

Morning: Visit Colchester's Art Scene

The Minories Galleries is a professional contemporary art gallery housed in a Listed Georgian building. The gardens, together with the folly within them, provide a delightful setting to appreciate the building and art work all with the option of a delicious lunch or afternoon tea from the onsite Tiptree Batte-Lay Tearoom.

Firstsite is a cutting-edge multimillion-pound visual art destination, located right in the heart of town. This cultural attraction showcases the work of regional, national and international artists, and frequently puts on cultural activities and shows.

The wider Colchester area is also the home a diversity of art galleries and arts & crafts centres. You can view the scenes which inspired famous English artists like 19th Century landscape painter John Constable, 18th century artist Thomas Gainsborough and 20th Century equestrian artist Sir Alfred Munnings, the Colchester area offers cutting-edge contemporary art galleries and art cafés for you to enjoy and buy locally made art and craft.

 

The Arts in Colchester

Firstsite Art Gallery: Interior
Firstsite Art Gallery & the Folly at the Minories Art Galleries

Afternoon: Explore Historic Sites

Explore Britain's oldest recorded town, with a colourful history dating back over two thousand years. Visit one of Colchester's award-winning museums such as Colchester Castle Museum, which showcases artefacts of Colchester's rich history, displayed within the walls of Norman keep built on the site of a Roman Temple. 

Within the town centre itself, you can see a variety of historic sites, from Victorian splendour and medieval timber framed houses, to the Roman Ruins of a theatre, a circus and the town wall and the evidence of Queen Boudica's destruction of the Roman capital of Britain.

 

Historic Places to Visit

Colchester Castle. Photo: RT Photography

Evening: Out at the Theatre

Colchester is fortunate in being able to offer groups a wide range of high quality evening entertainment to suit all tastes. The award winning Mercury Theatre stages an exciting and varied programme, much of which is produced in-house by the acclaimed Mercury Theatre Company. In addition the Mercury regularly plays host to touring ballet and opera productions, comedy, jazz and popular music. Housed in St Mary's Church, Colchester Arts Centre also attracts many of the big names in comedy and jazz and is the area's foremost venue for folk, and the Headgate Theatre down the road also puts on shows. Charter Hall is another flexible space that can stage everything from full orchestras to one-man shows.

Theatres & Shows

 

Aladdin at Mercury Theatre. Photo: Mike Kwasniak

More cultural places to visit...

Birch Gallery

Birch Gallery

Colchester

Art gallery displaying fine detail watercolours by John Harrison, Originals high quailty prints and greeting cards for sale. Tea room providing teas speciality, coffees, lunches, snacks and cream teas. Closed on Mon & Tues.

Bourne Mill

Bourne Mill

Colchester

National Trust property, the mill was originally built as a fishing lodge in 1591 and features stepped "Dutch" gables. There is a millpond and some of the machinery, including the waterwheel which is still intact and working.

Church of St Leonard's

Church of St Leonard

Colchester

Traces of the English Civil War

St Martin's Church

Church of St Martin

Colchester

Built from recycled Roman brick

Coggeshall Grange Barn

Coggeshall Grange Barn

Colchester

Grange Barn stands as a reminder of the once powerful Coggeshall Abbey; with ancient pillars soaring to a cathedral like roof.

Colchester Arts Centre

Colchester Arts Centre

Colchester

The home of live music, comedy, theatre, poetry, dance, children's shows, clubs, farmer's markets, gigs and more.

Colchester Castle Museum

Colchester Castle Museum

Colchester

Colchester Castle is the largest Norman Keep in Europe. Constructed on the foundations of the Temple of Claudius. The Castle Museum today reveals many fascinating layers of history to visitors.

Roman Circus Peter Froste CAT

Colchester Roman circus centre

Colchester

The Colchester Roman circus (chariot-racing arena) was discovered in 2005. It was built in the early 2nd century AD and seems to have been in use for about 150 years. It is the only known Roman circus in Britain.

Colne Valley Railway

Colne Valley Railway

Castle Hedingham

One mile length of line with re-located buildings, large collection of heritage rolling stock, steam and diesel locomotives and miniature and model railways. Special events including Thomas and Santa specials.

Cressing Temple Barns

Cressing Temple Barns

Braintree

Historically the most important - and dimensionally the largest - of the Knights Templar's Essex landholdings, Cressing Temple is a fascinating medieval moated farmstead boasting the oldest recorded timber-framed barn in the world.

Dedham

Dedham

Dedham

Set by the River Stour, Dedham is in the heart of Constable Country. It was here that Britain's greatest landscape artist went to school.

Alison Burchert - Essex based artist

Dedham Art and Craft Centre

Colchester

This beautifully converted church showcases the work of over 60+ creative artisans and the buying skills of specialist retailers on its top two floors while the ground floor houses a Lifestyle Living showroom and a tearoom.

Dedham Parish Church

Dedham Parish Church

Dedham

Our church, dedicated to St Mary the Virgin in 1492 when the present building was begun, is not the first church to have been built upon this site.

Dutch Quarter

Dutch Quarter

Colchester

Located just north of the High Street and includes: Maidenburgh Street, West Stockwell Street, East Stockwell Street, Stockwell Street, St Helen's Lane, Northgate Street and Nunn's Road.

East Anglian Railway Museum

East Anglian Railway Museum

Colchester

Celebrating the changing role of railways in the Eastern Counties since they arrived in the early 19th Century, through their glory days of the early 20th Century to the disappearances of the Beeching era.

firstsite, photo: Richard Bryant, arcaidimages.com

Firstsite

Colchester

A spectacular new venue for contemporary visual arts, firstsite offers a changing programme of exhibitions by international artists, creative events and activities for the whole family, plus talks, films, workshops and more. Entry is free.

Bridge Cottage

Flatford: Bridge Cottage

Dedham

A delightful 16th century cottage just minutes from Flatford Mill. Why not visit our Constable exhibition then sit by the river and enjoy a freshly baked cake at the National Trust tea room and find a gift in our shop.

Gosbecks Archaeological Park Map

Gosbecks Archaeological Park

Colchester

The Archaeological Park is one of the most significant Iron Age and Roman sites in the country. Enjoy a walk and discover the highlights of the site with the interpretation boards around the Park.

Hedingham Castle

Hedingham Castle

Halstead

Hedingham Castle is not just one place. Romantic, beautiful, ancient, historic and wild, it is somewhere to set your imagination free.