Castle Park Colchester
Published at: 24/08/2016
In a recent survey by local tourism and heritage group Inspire Colchester, 46.15 percent of the locals and visitors they spoke too said that Castle Park was their favourite thing about Colchester, making it Colchester's most popular local attraction.
It's not hard to understand why people are so fond of the park whose main entrance, the magnificent gates by the war memorial in Cowdray Crescent where the High Street meets East Hill, is right in the heart of the town centre. Behind these gates you are immediately greeted by the park's ornamental gardens, fish pond and grassy areas that surround the magnificent Norman castle which is home to one of the best collections of Roman artefacts in Britain.
Colchester Castle is beyond a doubt the jewel in the park's crown. Built on the orders of William the Conqueror, it is the largest Norman Keep in Britain, and was the blueprint for its smaller cousin, the Tower of London. The sheer size of the castle is daunting and gives a clue to the scale of the Roman Temple of Claudius on whose foundations it was built. What a breathtaking sight that temple must have been before Boudicca burned it to the ground!
On a fine day the lawns around the castle itself are home to many workers from the town who head there to eat their lunches in the sunshine. There is something special about seeing people sitting on the grass and enjoying the sun, just feet away from those castle walls that have stood there for nearly 1000 years.
Venturing a little further, behind the castle you will find the children's playground, recently moved to its new home and with many new features and attractions added to delight the town's children at weekends and school holidays, and also offering hope to their watching parents that their young ones will be sufficiently worn out after an hour or so of play that mum and dad will get a peaceful evening.
Not far away is the Café in the Park where you can buy soft and hot drinks, or an ice cream to enjoy as you stroll around the park. The café is overlooked by the Victorian bandstand which, every Sunday throughout the summer, plays host to traditional silver and brass bands as well as some who are a little more contemporary. It's always surprising how many turn up to watch them.
Beyond the bandstand the park sweeps down a hill which on rare occasions when we have sufficient snow will be teaming with people sledging down its length from the upper to lower park and trying to avoid a collision with Roman Wall that awaits them at the bottom.
On the far side of this wall that did such a sterling job of keeping Cromwell's army out during the Siege of Colchester in the English Civil war, lies the wonderful grassy space beyond it that stretches along the river creating a swathe of green almost from the historic Siege House restaurant at East Mill, past Riverside Estate and Leisure World, taking in the cricket ground then onwards almost to North Station Road.
As an estate agent here in Colchester we at Jackson & Co are constantly reminded what an important role Castle Park plays in the town and how fond Colcestrians are of it. Whether it's to kick a football around Lower Castle Park, watching the County Cricket during the Cricket Festival in August, visiting the castle, attending one of the many events and festivals throughout the summer, or just lying on the hill catching some rays, Castle Park offers so much to so many.
New York's Central Park may be the most famous public park in the World, but it's got nothing on Colchester's Castle Park.