Colchester is Britain’s oldest recorded town and lies just one hour from London and just a few miles from the coast.
What to do in Colchester:
Video produced by the University of Essex.
The picturesque town of Wivenhoe is a 20 minute brisk walk away from Wivenhoe House. Take a stroll along the waterfront to the beautiful town and explore some of Wivenhoe’s unique shops and cafés.
Colchester Town Centre, Essex
One of the many highlights is Colchester Castle, the biggest Norman keep in Europe, reopened after an intensive programme of improvement works to the museum
Stanway, Colchester, Essex
With more than 270 species spread across 60 acres, award-winning Colchester Zoo is a must-do for any family visiting the area. In celebration of the opening of their new ‘Bear of the Rising Sun’ enclosure, 2014 has been designated the Year of the Bear with a number of special events throughout the year.
If Wivenhoe House inspires you to go deeper into Constable country, head to Dedham, where the great artist went to school. The High Street is lined with Georgian-fronted houses, old inns and an arts and crafts centre.
Flatford Mill, Suffolk
Flatford Mill is a Grade I listed watermill on the River Stour at Flatford in East Bergholt, Suffolk, England. According to the date-stone the mill was built in 1733, but some of the structure may be earlier. Attached to the mill is a 17th-century miller’s cottage which is also Grade I listed.
Lavenham is a village, civil parish and electoral ward in the Babergh district, in the county of Suffolk, England. It is noted for its Guildhall, Little Hall, 15th-century church, half-timbered medieval cottages and circular walks. In the medieval period it was among the twenty wealthiest settlements in England.
Mersea Island is the most easterly inhabited island in the UK, situated off the coast of Essex and 9 miles southeast of Colchester.
There are an abundance of things to do on Mersea Island and with the island covering approximately 7 square miles, you will never be bored by the beautiful scenery that awaits you.
Jimmy’s Farm and Wildlife Park is fun for all the family, with something for everyone!
Tiptree Tea Room, Museum and Jam Shop
Most people who have had a cream tea or stayed at a hotel around England will be aware of the brand Wilkin & Sons, which has been making preserves, jams and marmalades in the village of Tiptree since 1885. Queen Elizabeth II paid the factory a visit when the company celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2010. You can make the short drive from Wivenhoe House for lunch and tea.
The factory shop has special treats like strawberry and champagne jam or salted caramel spread.
The jam museum at the site has vintage machinery, historic document, photographs accumulated over the company’s 130+ years.
Bringing Nature to YOU
Chris Gibson Wildlife
If you, with your family group or a few friends, would like to explore nature in and around our beautiful little town of Wivenhoe, why not book a tailor-made guided walk (from one hour to a whole day) with our local expert all-round naturalist Dr Chris Gibson who can show you the interesting trees and fungi in the parkland surrounding Wivenhoe House; the special plants and bugs of the local area; or the delightful birds of the estuary. In short whatever interests you the most. (NB no transport, or refreshments, provided.)
Family (up to 2 adults plus up to 3 children) £15 per hour | Adults (up to 6) £5 per person per hour (minimum £15 per hour).
Depending on the current Covid advice, larger groups may be possible.
Layer Marney Tower
Layer Marney, Colchester, Essex
Step forward 500 years and visit Layer Marney Tower, built in the reign of Henry VIII and visited by the monarch himself and his daughter Elizabeth I. Attracting visitors from all over the world to see the impressive architecture, gardens and landscape, the Tower reopened on 30 March 2014.
The Beth Chatto Gardens
Elmstead Market, Colchester, Essex
Just four miles from Colchester are The Beth Chatto Gardens, a beautiful tranquil haven to delight any garden lover. Set up in 1960 by Beth Chatto and her late husband Andrew, the garden features many unusual plants and Beth Chatto has published books and lectured around the world sharing her love and knowledge of planting.
Green Island Gardens
20 acres of professionally designed gardens laid out from 1996 onwards within woodland that was destroyed in the 1987 hurricane, now planted for all-year interest. It has a water garden, a pond, a bamboo dell, a Japanese garden, woodland gardens, a ‘seaside’ garden, gravel gardens, and much else besides. The fluid design, leads you along quite naturally, and the spacious island beds, planted with a large number of herbaceous plants and shrubs many of borderline hardiness which can be seen thriving within the Islands unique microclimate. Seldom does a designer’s garden display so much plantsmanship.
Within the lush green grounds of Wivenhoe Park lies an urban jungle of adventure, a place of learning, curiosity and discovery. This place is the University of Essex and within its labyrinthine walls next to a beautiful lake there is an underground delight that has been described as Colchester’s best kept secret. This place is Lakeside Theatre.
Roman River Music Festival
Various beautiful locations in North Essex
International music festival featuring world-class musicians in intimate and charismatic venues. The core programme is classical plus opera, theatre, electronic, jazz, folk, pop and world music. Tickets (£6 – £36) need to be booked in advance online or by phone 01206 729 356.
Concerts in July for the summer mini-festival, and from mid-September until the beginning of October for the main festival.
Munnings Art Museum
The Munnings Art Museum is at Castle House, the former home of the artist Sir Alfred Munnings (1878-1959) and his wife, Violet. Described by Munnings as ‘the house of my dreams’, he lived and worked in this elegant Tudor and Georgian building for over forty years until his death in 1959. The House, garden, artist’s studio and Garden Café are set in forty acres of beautiful countryside in the Dedham Vale on the borders of Suffolk and Essex. The museum owns the largest collection of art works by this prolific East Anglian painter and former President of the Royal Academy (1944-1949)
Much more can be found on www.visitcolchester.com
The Mercury Theatre is a theatre in the centre of Colchester, producing highly regarded original work under the title “Made in Colchester” and also receiving touring shows. The theatre has two auditoria, and is led by Tracey Childs, Steve Mannix and Ryan McBryde.
It has recently undergone an exciting refurbishment.