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by Dave Stenning, Richard Sharkle and Jane Greatorex

Colchester, the Historic High Street


Walking down the High Street, it is the enticing displays in the shop windows and the colourful cafes and restaurants that tend to attract our attention. But look up and you will see some really characterful architecture. In fact, hidden behind some of the rebuilt frontages are centuries old timber framed buildings. This little book peels away the modern facades and allows a glimpse back through the centuries to see what the High Street would have been like a few hundred years ago. The Red Lion Hotel and the George are the most well-known survivors from the period but this book draws on old documents and maps to recreate some lost buildings such as the ancient Moot Hall, and St Runwald’s Church that once stood in the middle of the High Street surrounded by stalls.  Focussing on the period 1100 to 1700 it recreates a High Street that was ‘much more than a thoroughfare; more an external room full of a wide range of activities’. With artisans, merchants and market traders it would have been busy, noisy and, yes, smelly – records show that traders needed regular reminders to clear the dung heaps!

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