Events & Outings

To attend any of our events, please contact us

Colchester Civic Society Social Program 2018/2019

Trying to arrange a full programme before the beginning of the New Year has, as usual, proved impossible. I never cease to be amazed by the fact that many venues do not consider bookings until March – or even later! As a result, what follows is not the complete offering for 2020. There will be more in the next Newsletter.
I am hoping to finally deliver a couple of events that had to be postponed, West Stow Anglo Saxon Village and the Recreation Ground Gates. However, these are two that will appear in the next Newsletter as West Stow are not yet booking and Colchester Borough Council have little idea as yet about 2020 bookings for the Rec. We certainly don’t want to clash with the fair or a music event! Next year we will have the final visit to Foulness as long as enough people want to go. Please advertise this far and wide! Our events are open to all, remember. There will also be another Hamford Water Wildlife boat trip to see the seals for those who missed out last year. Please let me know if you are interested. I am also intending to arrange a visit to Margate – the Turner Gallery, yes, but a lot more, including an opportunity for you to celebrate the 100th birthday of the listed Grade 2* Scenic Railway at Dreamland. Go on – I dare you! More information in the next Newsletter.
Our coaches normally leave from East Hill but other pickups are often possible so please ask. Parking is usually available at the Marks Tey Hotel at the cost of £4 per car as long as it is pre booked. Please contact me a week before if you would like to leave your car there. I will need your car registration number.
I must remind you all that, although I will try to refund you if you have to cancel your bookings for events, this is not always possible because I usually have to pay venues in advance and, of course, book the correct sized coach. Coaches are now enormously expensive and there is quite a difference between the cost of the 34 seater and a 53 seater. This year, I am intending to use minibus taxis for a couple of events as they may well be cheaper. I do not aim to make a profit from outings or events. If they seem expensive, that is the actual cost. Sorry!
Now a note for those who applied to join us for the King Tutankhamen exhibition in London. We didn’t get enough people to make this visit viable BUT I am trying to arrange a joint outing with another Civic Society. At the time of going to press, we are still trying to work out the logistics! I will be in touch as soon as possible.
I am aware that one or two of you still want to see the badgers at Fingringhoe Wick. Please let me know ASAP whether you would like me to book some more badger watching sessions and I will do this.
And now for a quick commercial! Colchester will, in 2020, celebrate the 900th year of the work of St Mary Magdalen’s Hospital Almshouses. The main event is a two day festival in the Upper Park of Colchester Castle on the 18th and 19th July 2020. The anniversary highlights the importance of Royal Steward, Eudo Dapifer, who built Colchester Castle & St John’s Abbey as well as St Mary Magdalen’s Hospital. He died in Feb 1120. A “Requiem” Mass is planned at St James the Great Church on East Hill for the evening of March 6th. If you would like further information, please let me know. Colchester Civic Society is hoping to arrange a Town Lecture as part of the celebrations. More in the next Newsletter. It is unfortunate that I had already booked the Foulness visit for the 19th July as I cannot now change the date. I do apologise for the clash.

Monday 6th January 2020 Meet at the Cloisters Restaurant at Greyfriars at 10am for the first Coffee Morning/Discussion Group of the year.
The ‘Coffee Mornings’ are an opportunity for you all to raise issues about Colchester that are concerning you, find out what we are doing, listen to the occasional speaker etc etc. They are very informal, with no agenda. Coffee/tea and biscuits provided.

Cost No charge but donations towards the work of the Society much appreciated.

Sunday 19th January 2020 Meet at the Cloisters Restaurant at 12.45pm at Greyfriars at for our New Year Lunch.

We are back at Greyfriars again by popular demand and have exclusive use of the room. The menu is enclosed with this Newsletter. Please make your choices and let me have them by 12th January. There is also a children’s menu if you want to bring young family members. My grandson, Jimmy, hopes that you do!

Cost £26

Monday 3rd February 2020 10am Greyfriars
Coffee Morning/Discussion Group
DATE AND TIME REQUIRED Meet at St Andrews Church, 124, Forest Road, Greenstead, Colchester at for a guided tour.
When Civic Society members, Paul and Ann Larkin, offered this visit, I leapt at the chance because I know that many Colcestrians have never visited this lovely little church in the heart of the Greenstead Estate. Subsequently, I discovered that several Civic Society members were totally unaware of its existence! Others had heard of it but thought it was modern. Actually, there was a church on the site at the time of the Norman Conquest but the oldest part of the current building dates from the 12th century. A tower was built late in the 16th century and there have been subsequent alterations, additions and repairs to the building, some as a result of the earthquake in 1884. Paul will give us a guided tour. There is a possibility that the date of this event will have to change as St Andrew’s is a working church and priority must be given for funerals etc.
Lifts can be arranged.

Cost £4 to include Coffee/Tea and a slice of cake. Proceeds to the Church.

Monday 2nd March 2020 Meet at Greyfriars at 10am Coffee Morning/Discussion Group
20th March to the 13th April 2020 The Great British Spring Clean Exact dates to be arranged.
We are looking for volunteers to join us, please, as we take part, as usual, in this nationwide event. We haven’t decided on an area or areas to litter pick as we would like you to make some suggestions. Do you know anywhere that is particularly in need of some TLC? If so, please contact Sheila Anderton via our Civic Society email address: or complete the slip.

Wednesday 25th March 2020 Meet at Public Car Park by the Jetty in Coast Road, West Mersea at 10.50am for a Cruise to Tollesbury.
I can hear your comments as I write this. An open boat, in March? She must be mad! But I am not. This is the opportunity to see the last of the overwintering birds in the estuary, before they disappear until Autumn. Unless the weather is particularly unseasonal, there should be knot, grey, golden and ringed plovers, black and bar tailed godwits, dunlin and Brent geese and, of course, the avocets that stay throughout the year. On reaching Tollesbury, we disembark and walk the short distance to the Loft Tearoom – menu available at or ask me for a printed version – for a hot drink and something to eat before returning to the Lady Grace for the voyage back to Mersea and a second opportunity to see the birds. The Loft is well worth a visit in its own right. It’s in one of the iconic Tollesbury sail lofts! Places are limited so please book in good time. Very warm clothing and ‘sensible’ footwear, please. Remember, the Lady Grace is an open boat. Lifts to Mersea can
be arranged.

Cost £16 Boat only.

Monday 6th April 2020 Meet at Greyfriars at 10am Coffee Morning/Discussion Group
Wednesday 22nd April 2020 Meet at Earls Colne Airfield at 10.50 am for a visit to the Essex Air Ambulance.

Our tour begins with a presentation about the work of the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT). There will be information about when and why the air ambulance is dispatched, the hospitals they take patients to and how long it takes to reach to these locations. We will also get an insight into some of the lives that have been saved and how much it costs to run the service.
One of the team will be available to answer questions, and subject to operational commitments, we may have the opportunity to speak to the Critical Care Team and see the air ambulance and rapid response vehicles up close! I do hope so!
If you can need or can offer a lift, please let me know. Maps available.
Cost? A minimum of £5, please, all proceeds to the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance.

Wednesday 28th April 2020 Meet in the Salon (off Reception) at Greyfriars at 7.30pm for our Spring Up meeting.

One of two evening meetings during the year for those unable to attend the monthly Coffee Mornings. Exactly the same format. Coffee/tea and biscuits provided.

Cost Free but donations welcomed

Monday 4th May 2020 Meet at Greyfriars at 10am for our Coffee Morning/Discussion Group
Thursday 14th May 2020 Meet at the car park by the Jetty in Coast Road, West Mersea at 4.50pm for a cruise to Bradwell on Sea.

We are off on the Lady Grace again, this time for an evening meal at the Green Man in Bradwell on Sea (food at your own expense, not included in the price) Menu available at or ask
me for a paper copy. We return to Mersea as the sun sets. Great photo opportunities! Warm clothes, please! Lifts to Mersea can be arranged.

Cost £16 Boat only

Sunday 17 May 2020 Meet at the War Memorial by the Castle Park Gates at 2pm for a Walk around Georgian Colchester

This walk will be led by our Vice Chair and Membership Secretary, Ann Turner, who is also an extremely knowledgeable Colchester Town Guide. The tour will concentrate on the parish of All Saints and will take about 2 hours. Make sure you know all the verses of God Save the King. Ann tells me that a test will take place during the tour!!

Cost £5 per head.

Wednesday 20th May 2020 Meet at Magdalen Road Hadleigh Suffolk at 10.55am for a Guided Tour of Hadleigh Past and Present.

The ancient market town of Hadleigh in Suffolk is one of the Wool Towns that prospered from the Woollen Cloth Trade in the 14th -17h Centuries, creating a legacy of many fine buildings. It is such a small town but 250 buildings are listed and very many of these are in Hadleigh High Street, itself full of independent shops and family businesses. A Viking King, a fearless long distance aviator, and an artist and plantsman are all part of Hadleigh’s story. Do join us for a guided tour of this fascinating and delightful place.

If you need or can offer a lift, please let us know. I have, however, arranged some minibus taxis – much cheaper than a coach. The nearest car park is at Magdalen Road.
Cost £5 Additional cost for taxi – price dependant on numbers.

End of May, date yet to be confirmed. We have been invited to join the Friends of the Minories on their visit to Copped Hall, Epping, the beautiful 18th century house that stands proudly on the right of the M25 as it wends its way northwards around London. The house was gutted by a terrible fire in 1917 and, although the owners intended to restore it, they didn’t and, by the time of WW2, it was totally stripped of anything of value. It was eventually saved by the Corporation of London and a trust was formed with the purpose of saving the building and bringing it back to life. We visited some years ago but, since then, a lot more work had been done. This is a chance to see that progress. If you are interested, please complete the reply slip and I will forward it to the Friends of the Minories so that they can contact you with full details once they are known.

Monday 1st June 2020 Meet at Greyfriars at 10am Coffee Morning/Discussion Group
Tuesday 2nd June 2020 Meet in the Cloisters Restaurant at Grey Friars at 7pm for our Annual General Meeting.
I do apologise for the clash with a Friends of the Museums lecture. Unfortunately, in order to have as many Executive Committee members present as possible, to meet our Constitutional requirement, to have this venue and to suit our speaker, this was the only viable date. The AGM will begin promptly at 7pm and will be followed by a break for coffee/tea. We will then reconvene for a talk by Sam Good, from Colchester’s BID team. The BID, or Business Improvement District, is a business led and financed organisation which was set up almost two ago. It promises to enhance Colchester Town Centre as a place where people want to shop, live, work, and relax by promoting a high quality, diverse and welcoming environment which is customer-focused and investment-friendly. It wishes to celebrate Colchester’s history and provide a sustainable future.The BID provides extra resources, over and above those provided by the Councils and others, to make the centre of the town special. Many of the floral displays in the town last summer were provided by the BID, supplementing those of Colchester in Bloom, for example. I think you will find this talk very illuminating and Sam is prepared to answer your questions.
I do hope you will come.

Cost Free. Donations always welcomed

Probably June Date to be arranged. A very special visit to Charterhouse in London.

‘Peer closely through the half light of the Master’s Court at dusk and you might make out the ghosts of Victorian physicians or plague victims, catch a glimpse of Elizabeth I commanding one of her courtiers – or spy the fourteen-year-old John Wesley kneeling at prayer.’
Charterhouse, built as a Carthusian monastery on the site of a Black Death burial ground in 137, flourished until the Dissolution when it became a mansion for wealthy noblemen and a refuge for Royalty until 1611 when Thomas Sutton bought the Charterhouse and established the foundation that now bears his name. Thomas Sutton’s will provided for up to 80 Brothers: ‘either decrepit or old captaynes either at sea or at land, maimed or disabled soldiers, merchants fallen on hard times, those ruined by shipwreck of other calamity’ as well as Charterhouse school. Thackeray, Robert Baden-Powell and John Wesley attended school here. When the school moved to Godalming in 1872, the Brothers remained at the Charterhouse in Clerkenwell. They are still there. Charterhouse is a wonderful, peaceful oasis in the heart of the City. It has a wealth of extraordinary and very beautiful architecture and it is that architecture, plus, of course some of the history, that we will concentrate on during this visit. I am so sorry that I can give you no further information at this time. No bookings are being taken until the Spring!
Tuesday 30th June 2020 Meet at the Jetty beside the Public Car Park on Coast Road, West Mersea at 5.50pm for another cruise to Tollesbury
This cruise is another of Stacey Belbin’s wonderful offerings. This time, we chug quietly round to Tollesbury, on board the Lady Grace , a journey which takes about an hour, and moor at the Marina. Then you are free to explore the village or join the rest of the group at the Harbour View restaurant for an evening meal before returning to the Lady Grace for the sunset trip back to Mersea, arriving back at 9.30pm. Magical! The cost of this visit covers the cruise. Food and drinks are at your own expense. A copy of the current menu can be found at or contact me for a printed version.

Cost £16 – boat only

Monday 6th July 2020 10am Greyfriars
Coffee Morning/Discussion Group

Sunday 19th July 2020 Meet at the bus stop at the top of East Hill at 12 noon for our final Visit to Foulness
I am not going to spoil the afternoon by telling you much about the place now. All I will say is that it is another world. Owned by the MOD and used, for decades, to test missiles, it is a large, flat island, 6 feet above sea level at its highest point. Access is through Army checkpoints. Security is taken very seriously at Foulness. The church is closed and structurally unsafe. The pub has shut. The school shut several years ago when the num- ber of pupils dropped to 11. The school building is now a quaint little museum and heritage centre. That’s enough. I shall say no more apart from to tell you that it is an incredibly interesting and atmospheric place. Peter Carr, a local farmer, will take you on a tour of the island, mostly following the sea wall, in a big and easily accessible trailer pulled by a tractor (look there are steps up into it but even I could manage them). It has seats and is fairly comfortable. Peter’s knowledge of the island is second to none; its history, its wildlife, its people. It is a fascinating experience. Tour complete, it is back to the heritage centre for a cup of tea and cake and free time to look at all the little museum has to offer. I am afraid that it is the tour or nothing. Visitors to the island must not explore by themselves, for both security and safety reasons. Cameras are allowed but you may be asked not to photograph certain things. Binoculars are OK. Mobile phones must be switched off whilst on the island. Please bring a packed lunch to eat on the coach and, however warm it seems, bring a jumper or light jacket. The sea breeze can be quite strong. And before you ask, there are loos at the heritage centre – and on the coach. If you have already been and would like to come again, please do.

Cost £35 to include your, tea and cake.

Monday 3rd August 2020 Meet at Greyfriars at 10am Coffee Morning/Discussion Group

Monday 7th September 2020 Meet at Greyfriars at 10am Coffee Morning/ Discussion Group
Thursday 10th September 2020 Meet at the bus stop at the top of East Hill opposite Greyfriars at TIME REQUIRED for a visit to Highgate Cemetery.
Arriving at Highgate Cemetery, there will be time for a quick coffee and biscuits (included in the cost if the day) before we meet our guides for a tour of the West side of the cemetery, the original site, full of incredible, over the top, Victorian tombs. When we last went, it was a damp and misty day which added to the extraordinary atmosphere of the place. Hopefully it will be better weather this time because the terrain does tend to be a bit slippery when it is wet. Please wear suitable shoes, flat and ‘sensible’, whatever the conditions. Free for lunch, either find a local pub or cafe, bring sandwiches to eat in the park next door or visit Lauderdale House, deeper in the park. This is now a flourishing Art, Heritage and Community Centre, well worth a visit in its own right. The house was built in 1582, the build possibly funded by Sir Francis Drake‘s Spanish treasure, and has a fantastic history involving such diverse people as Lord Mayors of London (several) Nell Gwynn, William Morris, the Ireton family, a Tudor Master of the Mint and preacher, John Wesley! It has been a private house, a museum, a girls’ school and a convalescent home. Conveniently, it now has a cafe, perfect for a light lunch. After lunch, it is time to wander around the East cemetery, still in use and last resting place of Karl Marx, George Elliot, George Michael etc etc.

COST to be announced

Monday 5th October 2020 Meet at Greyfriars at 10am Coffee Morning/Discussion Group

Monday 2nd November 2020 Meet at Greyfriars at 10am Coffee Morning / Discussion Group

Monday 9th November 2020 Meet in the Salon (off Reception) at Greyfriars at 7.30pm for our annual Burning Issues Meeting
This is the second evening meeting of the year for those unable to attend Monday Coffee Mornings. Come to raise and discuss issues of concern and find out what is happening in the town. Coffee/ Tea provided

Cost Free but donations towards the work of the Society welcomed.

Monday 7th December 2020 Meet at Greyfriars at 10am Coffee Morning/ Discussion Group