Walk Leader: Jess Jephcott
Text by: Jess Jephcott
Photographs by: Rowena Macaulay
Starting in one of Colchester’s Roman streets, now an important thoroughfare, the walkers set off through the town, guided by Jess. We looked at a map and a booklet of numbered postcard scenes from around 1902, comparing the old photographs with the present-day views. Some were very different, but some had barely changed over the past century. The biggest changes, of course, were due to the advent of the motor car and the shopping malls. But amongst the new features, there were older ones – buildings, objects, roof lines, window frames, etc. – still there to be seen. In these old images, we saw many shops, pubs, streets, churches, and so on that have since been lost to that modern phenomenon known as “progress.”
Thankfully, our Norman castle, built on the site of the 1st-century Temple of Claudius, is still here, though it has undergone many changes over the years. Our 2,800-metre-long town wall, built almost 2,000 years ago by the Romans after Queen Boadicea attacked, still stands, as does our Balkerne Gate, one of the main Roman gateways. We have some fine medieval churches, a magnificent Victorian town hall, and many 16th century timber-framed buildings, all captured by the photographer of our postcard collection and still here today.
These, together with some fine companions, good weather, burgeoning trees and flowers, all made this year’s Jane’s Walk a thing of wonder. Thank you, Jane Jacobs, for giving us the inspiration to explore our town and to learn about and appreciate what we still have.