HISTORIAN Alice Goss explains why Colchester is so historically important :

As a historian, Colchester’s history never fails to impress me.

Every time I research something another subject, I uncover something else that I never knew about this town. Over the past few years, I've written numerous articles for local newspapers on various aspects of Colchester's history.

I’m always being asked about our history and after giving my answer, the person replies: “Wow, I never knew that!” There is so much more to our history than Boudica and the Romans, a subject which is constantly being promoted by the town.

So, what about the rest?

Did you know that the town once had a gallows, or that the castle used to contain a rack for torturing prisoners? Probably not, but did you know that on March 29 1555 a priest called John Lawrence was burnt at the stake outside today’s town hall?

No; not many people do, especially those who work in promoting our town’s tourism.

This town has an impressive history, more so than any other town in the country and we could easily have a thriving tourist industry to rival that of York or Lincoln.

I'm really amazed that the council doesn't promote this town more in order to increase our visitor numbers, benefitting the town, her businesses and her people.

Other towns make the most of their heritage with the attractions that they have so why doesn't Colchester?

Our modern history spans nearly 2,000 years, starting with the arrival of the Romans in 43AD who gave us our street layout, through to the Saxons, the Normans, the Tudors and all the way up to the present day, all of whom have helped shape our town.

Colchester’s history spans: industry and commerce, we’ve connections to famous historical people, we have witches and religious persecution, battles and sieges, fire and destruction, outbreaks of plaque and other diseases and more executions in Colchester than any other town in Britain!

The town was attacked by Boudica’s army in 61AD, Roman Camuludunum burnt to the ground.

The town was attacked again in the year 917 by the army of King Edward the Elder driving out the Danish occupiers.

Colchester became involved with events during the English Civil War. Firstly in 1648, there was the Battle of the Head Gate in which the Parliamentarian Army failed to capture the town from the occupying Royalists. This in turn led to the eleven-week siege, which brought hardship, hunger, poverty and misery to the town and her people.

But what about King John you ask? His army laid siege to the castle in the year 1216, bringing trebuchets to the town.

There's no mention of that event in the displays inside the castle.

Crime and punishment also run through our town’s history.

The castle prison has hosted numerous prisoners over the years from petty thieves to murderers.

Mathew Hopkins, the infamous ‘Witchfinder General’, made good use of the castle cells where he imprisoned suspected witches before they were sent for trial. Numerous prisoners were held at the castle before being sent to the Chelmsford Assizes. On 10th July 1592 George Rootes, Ralph Douglas, Jane Wallis, Robert Collington and Anne Scott, were among some of those who went for their trials. They were all found guilty of their crimes and hanged! The castle prison has also claimed many lives, as numerous prisoners have died within the cells including the Quaker preacher James Parnell in 1656.

We have numerous executions in the town, especially those religious martyrs who died for their beliefs. Colchester’s bloodiest day was Monday 2nd August 1557 when ten people were burnt at the stake. Six in the morning by the walls outside the church of St. Mary’s at the walls and four in the afternoon within the castle Bailey.

Colchester's executions are numerous and varied in their methods, another aspect of history that visitors like to discover in other towns. So why not Colchester? We have had more executions in the town that any other, especially during the reign of Mary 1st (1553 – 1558) when 23 protestants were burnt for their beliefs. St. Peter’s Church contains a memorial to all those who were martyred.

Today history leaves behind an impressive castle, a Roman circus, ruined priories, Roman remains, Roman walls, the first Roman church in Britain, the ruins of one of Britain’s earliest Saxon churches, and there’s St. Peter’s, one of the oldest established churches in England. We also have numerous Tudor buildings and the Dutch Quarter of residential housing, built from the profits of a long since declined industrial past.

When it comes to history and heritage, Colchester has it all.