Watch our specially created video for Heritage Open Days 2021 to discover Wivenhoe's links to two significant stage actors from the 19th and 20th century.

Philip Wise, Heritage Manager for Colchester Museums, takes a look at some of Wivenhoe's past residents, their former homes, and contributions to stage and screen  

Wivenhoe and the Theatre - transcript of the video.

Hello, my name is Philip Wise and I am the Heritage Manager for Colchester and Ipswich Museums. I am standing on the quay at Wivenhoe in Essex. Behind me is Rose Lane which remarkably has been the home of two famous actors: Sir John Martin-Harvey and Joan Hickson. 

John Martin Harvey was born in Wivenhoe in 1863 and lived here until he was 19 when he left home to go on the stage in London. His most famous role was as Sydney Carlton in ‘The Only Way’, an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ which he claimed to have performed over 3,000 times. During the First World War Martin Harvey and his wife supported the war effort by fund raising for the Red Cross and other nursing charities for which he was knighted in 1921.  

Martin Harvey’s childhood home was here at Quay House. Built in the early 19th century, this house has a remarkable doorway which is inspired by the architecture of Ancient Egypt. The theatrical masks over the door are a nice touch. Upstairs there is a room which may have been the boyhood theatre of John Martin Harvey. 

Joan Hickson was born in Northampton and moved to Rose Cottage in Wivenhoe in 1958. She appeared regularly on the London stage, including in the 1940s in the Agatha Christie play ‘Appointment with Death’. This was seen by Agatha Christie who wrote in an note to Joan Hickson, ‘I hope one day you will play my dear Miss Marple’. This wish was realised in 1984 when the BBC began to film the Miss Marple stories and Joan Hickson appeared in 12 adaptations of the novels. 

Like its former owner, Rose Cottage is a very private house which cannot be seen from the road. It dates back to around 1800 and has been much altered. Inside the timber frame of the building can still be seen and there is an unusual staircase. 

This film has been specially produced for Heritage Open Days. To find out what else is happening this year pick up a leaflet from the Colchester Visitor Information Centre or visit our website at 




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