HUNDREDS of guests had a taste of Colchester’s rich heritage at an annual Oyster Feast.

The traditional event at Colchester Town Hall attracts well-known faces every year.

The feast began back in 1845 and is one of the biggest community events in the calendar.

Since it was first held it has celebrated Colchester’s rich heritage and sense of community.

This year the Mayor and Mayoress of Colchester, Nick and Elizabeth Cope, were joined in the Moot Hall by special guest speakers Dan Cruickshank, art historian and BBC presenter, author Liz Trenow, musician Nigel Hildreth MBE, and Sally Leung, retired headteacher at Montgomery Infant School and Military Wives Choir leader.

Among the Mayor’s guests were representatives from Colchester’s twin town, Wetzlar in Germany. This year the two towns celebrated a 50-year partnership.

The Lord Lieutenant of Essex Jennifer Tolhurst, the High Sheriff of Essex James Bettley, Colchester High Steward Sir Bob Russell and the Chairman of Essex County Council, John Jowers also attended.

The Colchester Town Watch greeted guests and in time-honoured tradition the Mayor joined them in sampling the borough’s famous oysters.

The Mayor’s Chaplain, the Reverend Canon Paul Norrington, said grace.

Nick Cope said: “I am enormously grateful to everyone who worked so hard to make this year’s Oyster Feast such a wonderful event.

“My thanks also go to the distinguished guest speakers and gifted musicians who enlivened the occasion so magnificently and made this ancient annual tradition truly unforgettable.”

The banquet was provided by Le Talbooth Dedham and the music performed by organist Ian Ray, Jane and Elizabeth Hammond, Nigel Hildreth, Moriarty Owen and the Colne Valley Youth Orchestra, Saint Botolph Music Society and Countless Ukes.