Colchester is a large town in north east Essex close to the Suffolk boundary, and is a short drive from the coast. The surrounding countryside is very beautiful, most notably the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Colchester has a population of around 105,000 making it one of Essex's largest towns and lays a claim to be the oldest town in Britain. It is the oldest recorded Roman town, as mentioned by Pliny the Elder in AD 77 under its Roman name Camulodunum. At the time it was in fact the Roman capital of Great Britain.
There have been many archaeological excavations and Roman mosaics and artifacts have been found in abundance all over Colchester. Large parts of the Roman walls that surrounded the city still exist, and are the most complete in the country including the largest surviving Roman gateway in Britain.
Since the Roman era, the town has had a colourful history and today houses a number of museums with a wealth of treasures from the past. There is also a zoo. Nearby Mersea Island, in the Blackwater Estuary has oyster farms as well as being the most easterly inhabited island.
Colchester has excellent leisure and cultural facilities and regular events. The Mercury Theatre is one the Eastern region's leading repertory theatres. Other theatres include Charter Hall and the Headgate Theatre. The Colchester Arts Centre is a multi-function arts venue hosting a variety of events including Rock and folk gigs, club nights, comedy nights, world music and jazz performances, and drama workshops. Its setting in the former St Mary-at-the-Walls church which is also home of the Colchester Beer Festival.
The town is home to the University of Essex and has its own football club - Colchester United.
Famous Colcestrians (people who were born in or lived in Colchester) include Blur band members Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon and Dave Rowntree; Jay Kay, the lead singer of Jamiroquai; John Constable the famous landscape painter; and Margaret Thatcher former Prime Minister.