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Colchester

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Colchester lies 51 miles from London, and has a population of 10,089. A large and populous borough and market town of great antiquity, it is chiefly built on the southern declivity of a hill, rising from the banks of the River Coln. Colchester is with great probability supposed to have been an ancient British settlement before the invasion of this island by the Romans. Though history may reject the story of King Cole, yet it is certain that this town was one of the most important establishments of the Romans so long as they continued masters of this country. The streets are regular and well built throughout the principal part of the town. There is a large and convenient market-place, where fairs are held on Easter Tuesday for woollens, 5th of July for horses, 23rd of July for cattle and horses, and 20th of October for cattle, horses, butter and toys. The River Coln is navigable for small craft to a place called the Hithe, within three miles of the town, where there is a quay and a customs house. The principal manufacture is of a kind of coarse woollens called beizes and serges, said to have been introduced here in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The trade is under the control of a Corporation of the Governers of the Dutch Beize-Hall, whose officers have authority to examine the cloth previous to its sale. Among the articles of produce for which Colchester has been noted are candied eryingo roots and oysters, of which last, quantities are sent to London and elsewhere." [Cole and Roper "The British Atlas...", 1801]

"It is situated on a fine eminance near the Coln, which is navigable within three miles of the town for ships of large burden, and for hoys and small barks to a place called the Hythe, where is a quay close to the houses. Here is a manufactury of baize and says; and it is noted for oysters called natives. It has an ancient castle, and some other fine buildings both ancient and modern. It is a principal station on the Eastern Counties Railway. It is 51 miles from London. Markets, Wednesday and Saturday. Population, 17,790." [Barclays Complete & Universal English Dictionary, 1842-1852]

“COLCHESTER, a borough and market-town having separate jurisdiction, locally in the Colchester division of the hundred of Lexden, county of ESSEX, 22 miles (N. E. by E.) from Chelmsford, and 51 (N. E. by E.) from London, containing 12,005 inhabitants, and, including the parishes of Bere-Church, Greenstead, Lexden, and Mile-End, which are within the liberties, 14,016. .............The town is built on the summit and northern acclivity of an eminence rising gently from the river Colne, over which are three bridges, .....................[More]” [From Samuel Lewis A Topographical Dictionary of England (1831) - copyright Mel Lockie 2016]

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Census

  • Census returns are available from the usual sources for 1841-1911, which includes most copies held at the ERO, Wharf Rd, Chelmsford. More information on other ways to view these census returns on the Essex
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Church History

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Description & Travel

Photographs of Colchester, from Francis Frith.

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Gazetteers

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Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Colchester has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.

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History

A P Baggs, Beryl Board, Philip Crummy, Claude Dove, Shirley Durgan, N R Goose, R B Pugh, Pamela Studd and C C Thornton, A History of the County of Essex: Volume 9, the Borough of Colchester, ed. Janet Cooper and C R Elrington (London, 1994). [British History Online]

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Maps

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference TL997254 (Lat/Lon: 51.891366, 0.900719), Colchester which are provided by:

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Poor Houses, Poor Law

  • Colchester was a member of the Colchester Poor Law Union