Facts About Colchester
Colchester is a historic market town and the largest settlement within the borough of Colchester in the county of Essex. Colchester was the first Roman-founded Colonia in Britain, and Colchester lays claim to be regarded as Britain’s oldest recorded town. It was for a time the capital of Roman Britain, and is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network.
Situated on the River Colne, Colchester is 50 miles (80 km) northeast of London and is connected to the capital by the A12 road and its railway station which is on the Great Eastern Main Line. It is seen as a popular town for commuters, and is less than 30 miles (48 km) from London Stansted Airport and 20 miles (32 km) from the passenger ferry port of Harwich.
Medieval Colchester’s main landmark is Colchester Castle, which is an 11th-century Norman keep, and built on top of the vaults of the old Roman temple. There are notable medieval ruins in Colchester, including the surviving gateway of the Benedictine abbey of St John the Baptist (known locally as “St John’s Abbey”), and the ruins of the Augustinian priory of St Botolph (known locally as “St Botolph’s Priory”). Many of Colchester’s parish churches date from this period.
Colchester developed rapidly during the later 14th century as a centre of the woollen cloth industry, and became famous in many parts of Europe for its russets (fabrics of a grey-brown colour). This allowed the population to recover exceptionally rapidly from the effects of the Black Death, particularly by immigration into the town. Rovers Tye Farm, now a pub on Ipswich Road, has been documented as being established by 1353.