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.

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.

St Botolphs Priory

Colchester Castle Museum

Colchester Castle

For anyone wanting to discover the heritage and culture on which Colchester is built, the Castle Museum is a must-visit, crammed with national treasures, interactive exhibitions, and historical artifacts.

Focussing primarilly on Roman, Norman and Medieval finds the Castle holds treasures including the Colchester Sphinx, the tombstone of Marcus Favonius Facilis, and the Fenwick treasure - a gold hoard discovered in the recent redevelopment of Colchester's flagship department store.

A great place to start any visit to Colchester, the Castle Museum also provides an overview of Colchester's historic sites and locations of other artifacts so you can get a flavour of what there is to see during your visit, the historical significance of the sites, and how they fit into the story of Colchester's development as a town. 

Read more about Colchester's History

Culture & Heritage Places to Visit

Besides Colchester Castle Museum, you can discover the culture and heritage of Colchester at numerous attractions around the town. From the ruins of the country's oldest church to the winding streets of the Dutch Quarter where Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was written, there are stories to be found and discoveries to be made around every corner.

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Colchester's Artistic Heritage

Statue of Sir Alfred Munnings in the Munnings Art Gallery

From the Romans to the 21st century, Colchester and it's surroundings have been inspiring artists in their work and there are plenty of opportunities to experience this first-hand. From ancient pots in the Castle Museum, to cutting-edge work on display in the town's contemporary galleries Colchester's artistic heritage is on display for everyone to enjoy.

Sitting on the edge of Constable Country, Colchester is an ideal location to explore the Dedham Vale that inspired John Constable, the famous landscape painter and close by The Munnings Museum hosts work by Sir Alfred Munnings. Meanwhile, Gainsborough's house in nearby Sudbury explores the work of Thomas Gainsborough.

Colchester still has a vibrant cultural scene today, with many art, music and historic events happening all year round.

Leading venues such as Colchester Castle, Firstsite, The Mercury Theatre, and Colchester Arts Centre all have extensive programmes of activities and events bringing art and culture of national significance to the town on a regular basis.

Our Whats On page is a fantastic place to get a flavour of what Colchester has to offer

Galleries and Arts Venues