History & 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 the former capital of Roman Britain Colchester has many important and unique Roman sites and ruins, but a lengthy history means there is plenty to discover from other eras of English History including the Normans, Tudors and Victorians who all contributed to Colchester's story, as well as the English Civil War which made significant marks on the town.

Read More About Colchester's History

St Botolph's Priory Colchester

Great Ways to Discover Colchester's History

Guided Tours
 
Join our qualified Blue and Green Badge Guides on a Tour of the Town Centre
Roman Theatre

Explore Roman Colchester

Discover what remains of Camulodunum, Roman Britain's first capital city.

Colchester Castle
 
Colchester's Norman Castle now holds a wealth of treasures and tells the story of the town.
Couple using App in Colchester Castle Museum.

 Explore the history of the town from your phone or tablet. Great on the go or to make plans in advance.

Historic Places to Visit in Colchester

Alongside Colchester Castle Museum, you can discover the history 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.

Visit the only known Roman Circus in Britain, or learn about the social history of the town in Hollytrees Museum, if you're interested in history then you'll need more than just a day-trip to fit in everything Colchester has to offer - why not stay for a few days in one of our historic hotels?

Historic Places beyond the Town Centre

The Borough of Colchester extends beyond the town itself, and many of the nearby villages share a history that is just as fascinating.

Take a short car journey, or brief hop on public transport and you could discover Britain's largest Tudor Gateway in Layer Marney or the landscapes and buildings immortalised by some of England's finest painters scattered throughout Constable Country and the Dedham Vale.

The history and heritage of this part of Essex is as widespread as it is ancient, and it is all easilly accessible from Colchester.

Museums in Colchester

Although much of Colchester's history can be see by simply walking through the streets of the town you can discover even more by exploring the town's museums. Inside Colchester Castle is the town's main museum which explores Colchester's past. It is run by Colchester and Ipswich Museum services who also curate the nearby Natural History Museum, as well as Hollytrees Social History Museum.

Further afield, the borough has many smaller museums - from the Mersea Island Museum, exploring the island's heritage, to the Nottage Museum in Wivenhoe, the Tiptree Jam Museum at Wilkins & Sons' factory and even the tiny Boxted Airfield Museum.


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.

Harwich Lifeboat Museum

Harwich Lifeboat Museum

Museum contains the last Clacton off-shore. Oakley Class Lifeboat 34ft and a history of the lifeboat service in Harwich.

Boxted Airfield Museum

Boxted Airfield Museum

Boxted Airfield Museum station 150. The most important US fighter base in the UK in WW2.

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.

Beach Hut - Mersea Island Museum

Mersea Island Museum

Exhibits of Mersea's social history, natural history, archaeology and fishing industry, including a fisherman's cottage display. Special exhibitions and gift shop.

Claudius Gateway

Claudius Gateway

Fascinating archaeological ruins and Museum forming the back drop for a stylish coffee house. All proceeds go to charity.

Wilkin and Sons

Wilkin and Sons Ltd

Over 50 years ago, John Wilkin began collecting the paraphernalia of preserve making and Essex village life.

The Munnings Collection at Castle House

The Munnings Art Museum

Explore the life and work of renown British artist Sir Alfred Munnings (1878-1959) in his former home and studio.

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.

More Things to do in Colchester

Cow in river at Dedham Vale
Wildlife and Green Spaces