Ever thought about buying a house in Colchester, Essex? Well, the history of this town is long and varied and is well worth factoring in to your perspective property decision making process. Property sales remain buoyant in the town and perhaps that is because it is such a great location.
Colchester has a proud history and is claimed as the oldest recorded town in Britain as it was mentioned by Pliny the Elder in AD77 during the Roman times. Colchester's Celtic name is Camulodunon and it means 'the fortress of Camulos' (who was the war god of the Celts). After the Romans conquered Britain a fortress was built comprising of legionaries. Colchester then served as the Roman Capital of Britain and was very well defended as it was built on a hill.
In 61 AD there was a rebellion by Boudica the famous Rebel General and Colchester's fortress was overrun and destroyed. After the destruction of Colchester, London became the new capital of the renamed Britannia, but it would still be that the Council of the Provincial natives would still meet at Colchester due to the Temple of the Divine Claudius that served as the seat of the council. Later on, the Roman Force moved North and Colchester became a colony.
Then around 400 AD the Saxons came over to Britain and took over Colchester. They reorganised the defences dramatically and increased security, they also managed to block the Balkerne Gate which was one of the entrances to Colchester in the Roman era, as well as some of the public buildings outside the town were also abandoned. This made the town less susceptible to attack and a lot safer. But in the 9th century the Vikings landed in Britain from Scandinavia and overran the Saxons. It remained in the hands of the Vikings until 920 AD where the British settlers claimed Colchester back with the help of Edward the Elder.
The next major improvement and change to Colchester then came in medieval times where the Normans in the 11th century AD built what is today's Colchester Castle. The Normans were very clever in the positioning of the castle. It overlooked the whole city and was built a top a large hill, where the vaults of the Roman temple of Claudius were situated. The Normans also built St Johns Abbey and the priory of St Botolph, where ruins of both can be found still around Colchester. You can still see the gateway of the Abbey and the foundations and walls of the priory.
In 1189 a royal charter was granted by King Richard 1 or Richard the Lionheart. The charter was given on the east coast of the UK at Dover where King Richard was embarking on one of his many trips away from England.
Between the 1500's and the 1600's a large amount of weavers and clothmakers emigrated from Flanders in Northern France into Colchester and the surrounding area of Essex. They were famous across Europe for making many different types of cloth especially bays and says. Even today there still an area of Modern day Colchester where it is known as the 'Dutch quarter', as many of the buildings date from the Tudor period as during this period Colchester was known as one of the most prestigious wool towns in England.
There was also a siege of Colchester during the Second civil war of 1648. A royalist army led by Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle entered Colchester, closely being pursued by the parliamentary army led by Sir Thomas Fairfax. The parliamentary army besieged the town for eleven and a half weeks before the Royalist army surrendered towards the end of summer. Following the surrender both Lucas and Lisle were executed in the grounds surrounding Colchester castle.
The most notable event of Victorian Colchester was the great earthquake of 1884 which measured 4.7 on the Richter scale. It lasted about 20 seconds and around 1200 buildings were damaged or destroyed. It is said that 3 to 5 people died in the earthquake and there was around 10,000 pounds worth of damage.
With such a dramatic history behind it, is it any wonder that property sales are still a sought after commodity in this town?
Property expert Catherine Harvey talks to expert historian James Parker about what makes property sales in colchester still a worthwhile venture.