Culture and Heritage in Colchester

Colchester is Britain's oldest recorded town, with a colourful history dating back over two thousand years. It's a history you can share by visiting the town's award-winning museums where you can see collections of international importance.

From a Roman Temple to cutting edge 21st century design, via Victorian splendour and medieval timber frames, panoramas of beautiful buildings reflect the town's history and contemporary appeal.

As well as being the inspiration for 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.

Places to Visit

St Botolph's Priory - RT Photography

Culture & Heritage Places to Visit

Gosbecks Archaeological Park Map

Gosbecks Archaeological Park

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.

St John's Abbey Gate

St John's Abbey Gate

Dating from the 15th century this fine flint flushwork gatehouse just off St John's Green has a vaulted interior. It was the entrance to St John's Abbey precinct (demolished during the 16th century Reformation).

Bourne Mill

Bourne Mill

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.

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Discover and interesting 'hands-on' perspective on the local natural environment from the Ice Age right up to today. Explore the garden trail and stag beetle exhibition, free entry.

Roman Circus Peter Froste CAT

Colchester Roman circus centre

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.

firstsite, photo: Richard Bryant, arcaidimages.com

Firstsite

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.

Hollytrees Museum

Hollytrees Museum

An important part of Colchester's rich history with three centuries of fascinating toys, costume and decorative arts displayed in an attractive Georgian town house from 1718.

Colchester Arts Centre

Colchester Arts Centre

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 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 Theatre

Roman Theatre

The remains of the Roman theatre in the town centre can best be seen in Maidenburgh Street in the Dutch Quarter. Look for the darker paving in the road showing the outline of the theatre's walls.

Mercury Theatre

Mercury Theatre

A highly respected regional theatre, home to the critically acclaimed Mercury Theatre Company, staging a broad mix of classic plays and new writing as well as working extensively within the local community.

Sentinel Gallery

The Sentinel Gallery

A newly opened art gallery, located in the heart of Wivenhoe. Hosting regularly changing exhibitions of local artists of 2D and 3D, alongside Pru Green's own pottery workshop is a ceramic room of her pots and others with jewellery.

Layer Marney Tower

Layer Marney Tower

Magnificent Tudor building with the tallest Gatehouse in Britain and 16th century Italianate terracotta. Climb the tower, visit the gardens, outbuildings dolls house, church and farm animals. Cafe and shop.

Balkerne Gate

Roman Wall/Guard Room/Triumphal Arch

Colchester's Roman Wall is the oldest and longest surviving town wall in Britain.

St Botolph's Priory

St Botolph's Priory, Colchester

The first English Augustinian priory church, founded at the end of the eleventh century from the Anglo-Saxon minster community of Colchester. Only the ruined remains of the nave survive today, under the care of English Heritage.