Take a trip into Essex
If you fancy a day out of the county, Colchester and north Essex have much to offer. Here are five suggestions
The Colchester to Camulodunum walking tour is the perfect way to take in the real essence of Colchester and pick up on some of the history that can so easily be missed. The tour takes you through Castle Park, the Dutch Quarter and the High Street – only minutes away from each other, but each with a very different story to tell. You can book a walking tour through Visit Colchester, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www. visitcolchester.com or call 01206 282920. If you’d like to explore Colchester’s unique historical sights at your own pace, the free Ancient Colchester App is available for download onto both Apple and Android devices. cimuseums.org. uk/visit/venues/ancient-colchester-app/
The Mercury Theatre in Colchester is a centre of excellence in the east’s growing creative economy. In May there is the chance to catch
Spamalot on tour and also Arthur Miller’s highly-acclaimed The Crucible.
The theatre is just a five minute walk from Colchester town centre, just head for Jumbo. www.mercurytheatre. co.uk or call 01206 573948.
Firstsite, built in 1994, is a fabulous building. Now a thriving art gallery and cultural centre in the heart of Colchester, inside you will find a range of exhibitions from both local and internationally-renowned artists, plus arts events and activities, learning workshops and a wide range of films, plus live opera and ballet performances screened in the state-of-the-art auditorium. Entry is free to the gallery.
Just outside Colchester is Elmstead Market, home of Beth Chatto Gardens. The gardens were created by award-winning gardener, author and lecturer Beth Chatto, who won 10 gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show in 10 consecutive years. Now, they are an inspiration to gardeners and garden lovers, welcoming visitors from all over the world and there is also a renowned nursery which stocks more than 2,000 varieties of plants, many propagated from plants in the gardens. www. bethchatto.co.uk or call 01206 822007.
A few miles from Elmstead Market you will find Dedham, the boyhood playground of one of the world’s most famous landscape artists, John Constable. This small town has a charming appeal that is easy to enjoy at any time, but to make the most of your visit and learn more of its history, a town tour should not be missed. Guided tours of Dedham take place throughout the summer; see www.visitessex.com