In his Out and About column, Colchester high steward and former MP Sir Bob Russell looks at other places called Colchester.

THERE are five places called Colchester in the United States of America, two in Canada and one in South Africa – all named after our Colchester.

In the USA and Canada there are also streets named Colchester, and three in Australia.

Thus over 24 hours there is always somewhere in the world where it is daytime for “Colchester” residents!

Our Colchester can trace its roots back to before the Roman occupation of Camulodunum in AD43 and its development as Britain’s first city and first capital with the name Colchester emerging 1,400 years later.

A mural in the council chamber of Colchester Town Hall, which lists 46 different names and spellings over 2,000 years, states the first time it was written as “Colchester” was in 1454.

The word “chester” indicates a Roman military presence.

In our case it is prefaced by its geographic association with the River Colne – over the years the name evolved into “Colchester” which we know it today.

When the New World started to be settled in the 17th century by people from England it was often the case that colonists chose names from the old country.

East Anglian place names feature strongly.

A new settlement in Connecticut in 1698 was named Colchester. Among its founding fathers was Nathaniel Foote whose family came from West Mersea.

He persuaded the other settlers to name their new community Colchester.

I am an Honorary Citizen of Colchester, Connecticut!

I was granted this in October 1986 when, as Mayor of Colchester, I was invited to the USA with my wife as guests of Dedham, Massachusetts, for celebrations to mark the 350th anniversary of its foundation in 1636.

We were able to spend a day in Colchester, New London County, Connecticut, which is about 120 miles from Dedham.

My Mayoral Diary for October 3 1986 reads: “We spent the day in Colchester, Connecticut, which bears no resemblance to our Colchester.

“We were welcomed by town officials and the band of the local high school who played both national anthems, and we exchanged gifts.

“We visited the old people’s day centre and school, toured the town, and after being hosted for lunch made the journey back to Dedham.”

This is the only time that the Mayor of Colchester has visited a namesake Colchester.


I was given special permission to take the Mayoral chains and badge to the USA.

The population of the Connecticut Colchester is now more than 16,000, an increase of 7,000 from when I visited 31 years ago.

In common with its British namesake, Colchester is a fastest growing town in Connecticut. Most of its houses are of timber construction.

Nearly 95 per cent of the town’s residents are white with less than 0.5 per cent Native American.

A total of 71 per cent are aged under 44 – with only 9 percent 65 and above.

In 2010 Colchester became the first town in Connecticut to be certified with the USA National Wildlife Federation as a “Community Wildlife Habitat”.

Colchester is listed on the USA National Register of Historic Places as the “Colchester Village Historic District”.

A local history museum is operated by the Colchester Historical Society.

The area today known as Colchester, which covers nearly 50 square miles, was previously the land of the Mohegan tribe.

In the new settlement’s early years several grist and saw mills were built to provide grain and timber.

In 1706 the first street was laid. Called Town Street, it is nearly 200ft wide.

By 1714 there were nearly 50 English colonial families in Colchester Connecticut, many of them it is recorded as being from Colchester, Essex, England.

  • Next week - other places named Colchester in North America.