Colch­ester

The Guardian - Weekend - - Front Contents - Tom Dy­ck­hoff

What’s go­ing for it? Been around a while, Colch­ester. Seen it all be­fore. This is, af­ter all, re­put­edly the old­est con­tin­u­ally in­hab­ited town in the land. It’s seen Ro­mans (they went wild for its oys­ters), and more an­cient tribes be­fore them. Cym­be­line. Yes, the Cym­be­line. Old King Cole. Yes, the Old King Cole. Pliny writes about Colch­ester. Pliny never wrote about Nuneaton. So re­spect to Colch­ester; it’ll out­live you or me. It keeps up with the times, don’t get me wrong, with its (lit­er­ally) daz­zling First­site art gallery, the Colch­ester Arts Cen­tre and its new Cur­zon cin­ema. But this is a place with old bones. Look past the Nando’s, to the old stones of the cas­tle, the curly wurly curlicued town hall, the heroic pol­i­tics of its post­war uni­ver­sity, the ghosts of Flem­ish weavers in the Dutch Quar­ter. Colch­ester is a city wor­thy of an epic, like Troy. It’s got tales to tell. Maybe when Boudicca burnt it to the ground. Or when the Nor­mans built the largest cas­tle in Eu­rope. Or maybe when the par­lia­men­tar­i­ans laid siege to it in the civil war and the cit­i­zens were forced to eat rats. There are plenty of juicy plots here. So, who’s go­ing to write it?

The case against Too many ex­ec­u­tive es­tates of toy town tat built in the noughties. The Golden Ba­nana: love it or hate it?

Well con­nected? Trains: the main Colch­ester sta­tion has four or five an hour to Chelms­ford and Ip­swich ( both 18-26 mins), and Lon­don (49-66 mins); Colch­ester Town goes to Wal­ton-On-The-Naze (hourly, 42 mins). Driv­ing: 30 mins to the coast at Clac­ton and Har­wich port, 20 mins to Ded­ham Vale and Con­sta­ble Coun­try, Ip­swich 30 mins, Stansted Air­port less than an hour, the M25 45 mins.

Schools Pri­maries: most are “good”, says Of­sted, with Hamil­ton, St Teresa’s Catholic, Home Farm and Mont­gomery In­fants “out­stand­ing”. Se­con­daries: The Stan­way , St Bene­dict’s Catholic, The Thomas Lord Aud­ley, St He­lena, Colch­ester Academy, The Gil­berd are “good”; Colch­ester Royal Gram­mar needs a more up-to-date re­port; Colch­ester County High “out­stand­ing” in 2009.

Hang out at… Church Street Tav­ern for Mersea oys­ters; Grain for wood pi­geon and hazel­nuts. Oh yes.

Where to buy In town, the his­toric heart has all the char­ac­ter you’d ex­pect, es­pe­cially in the fa­mous Dutch Quar­ter of Tu­dor, 17thand 18th-cen­tury town­houses and cot­tages. Be­yond, west is best, be­tween Lex­den Road and Mal­don Road. And out to Lex­den it­self, es­pe­cially Po­ets Cor­ner. Large de­tacheds and town­houses, £450,000-£1.25m. De­tacheds and smaller town­houses, £200,000-£450,000. Semis, £150,000-£500,000. Ter­races and cot­tages, £125,000-£350,000. Flats, £100,000-£400,000. Ren­tals: a one-bed flat, £525-£825pcm; a three-bed house, £800-£1,400pcm.

Bar­gain of the week In­ter­war and post­war homes, like this four-bed de­tached in St John’s; £385,000, with michael­sprop­erty.co.uk

Do you live in Ban­gor, County Down? Do you have a favourite haunt or a pet hate? If so, email lets. move@the­guardian.com by next Tues­day.

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