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A snapshot guide to Colchester


The oldest town in Britain and once the Roman capital, Colchester is a historic market town in the county of Essex. It has seen considerable development in recent years, and given its easy commute to London, it has been named as one of the country’s fastest growing towns. Home to Colchester Castle and Colchester United Football Club, it boasts one of the best zoos in England, frequently topping TripAdvisor’s favourite things to do. A must-visit for families with young children, it houses over 260 rare species, with experiences on offer allowing you to get even closer to the animals.

The town centre is flanked by surrounding fragments of the Roman town wall, and the imposing water tower, affectionately known as ‘Jumbo’, can be spied from many angles as you set foot down the bustling High Street. The town’s main thoroughfare provides plenty of shopping opportunities, including Fenwick department store, along with a host of great eateries, and a market that takes place every Friday and Saturday.

Located 50 miles north-east of London, Colchester is connected to the capital by the A12 road, and its main railway station, which is on the Great Eastern Main Line. It is therefore a popular place for commuters to live, offering more affordable housing and a taste of the London lifestyle at a much slower pace. The town is also less than 30 miles from Stansted Airport and 20 miles away from the passenger ferry port of Harwich.

There’s an important military base at Colchester Garrison on the edge of the town. The army therefore provides employment for a large proportion of the town’s residents, along with a wealth of other industries, from publishing to insurance.

As is the case for the rest of Essex, Colchester’s state schooling operates a two-tier system. Two of the town’s secondary schools are selective – Colchester Royal Grammar School and Colchester County High School – whilst the remainder are comprehensives, and private schools include St Mary’s School and Colchester High School. The University of Essex is located here in Colchester, in Wivenhoe Park to the east – it was recently named University of the Year at The Times Higher Education Awards!

Last year, most property sales in Colchester involved semi-detached properties, which sold for an average of £290.245. Detached properties sold for an average of £384,958, while terraced houses fetched £236,671 – together, an overall average price of £271,369, which is up 3 per cent on the previous year. A large percentage of these homeowners buy to let to both students and commuters.

Colchester is an interesting place to spend any amount of time, with a rich history and many charms. It is believed to be the birthplace of three of our most prominent nursery rhymes – Old King Cole, Humpty Dumpty and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star – as well as one of the potential sites for Camelot, the court associated with King Arthur’s realm, on account of having been the capital of Roman Britain.