Commemorative Plaques

Our Work With Plaques

The Civic Society is keen to commemorate important people, places and events in the town and has been involved with the erection of several blue plaques and the restoration of others, including one which commemorates John Ball, one of the leaders of the Peasants’ Revolt. There are links to further information about this and a number of other plaques erected by our Society in recent years.
The Society also encourages others to sponsor the erection of plaques and is prepared to give advice on procedures and wording. To get in touch about this email us on

The Colchester Plaque Trails

This is a unique achievement created by members of our society with the help of Placecheck Online. Three Plaque Trails have been created for the town and can be followed using online maps on your mobile phone.
Each trail not only shows the position of many of Colchester’s plaques on a map, but also provides a photo for each one, along with comprehensive information about the person or place commemorated.
Follow this link for the plaques trails. When you have opened up a Trail, simply touch the blue dots in turn to bring up each plaque and accompanying information.

Colchester Plaque Trails

This link will take you to the Society’s plaque trails. At the present time we have three trails, Military & Wartime, Town Centre and the Out of Town Trail.

The Plaque

Two new plaques at The former Sergeants Mess

Two plaques were unveiled at the former Sergeants Mess Building on 26th August 2022. Initiated by Paul Knappett, a small  team including Paul, members of the Colchester Civic Society Exec Committee, Colchester Archaeological Trust (CAT) and residents of the Sergeants’ Mess building arranged for the production of the plaques and the necessary permissions. In addition funding is underway for a permanent monument to commemorate the history of the building, the barracks, the setting (including the Circus Starting Gates which are in close proximity) and the Battle of Le Cateau. (It should be noted that at the end of the Great War and in commemoration of the action by the Royal Field Artillery during the Battle of Le Cateau, the barracks were renamed “Le Cateau Barracks”).


John Ball

A plaque to commemorate John Ball was unveiled in July 2017  by the Right Reverend Roger Morris Bishop of Colchester and Baroness Chakrabarti CBE. The unveiling took place on John Ball Day, which coincides with the date of John Ball’s execution in 1381. The event attracted a sizeable crowd and included a performance by Dorian Kelly in the role of John Ball making a rallying speech to the people of Colchester. A video recording is included here.


Catharine Buchanan Alderton

Catharine Alderton joined the Liberal party and was an active campaigner for votes for women although she opposed violence. Some women were given voting rights in local government in 1894. In 1916 she was elected to Colchester Borough Council, the first woman to be so elected. It has been stated by local historians that she was the most significant woman in Colchester’s history since Boudicca.


Dr. Ruth Bensusan Butt

A blue plaque to commemorate Dr Ruth Bensusan Butt was erected on the front of the Minories, 74 High Street in June 2016. Dr Bensusan Butt was born in South London in 1877, the daughter of an ostrich feather merchant. She made the decision to become a doctor when one of the household’s maids fainted and nobody knew what to do! She trained at the Royal Free Hospital in London, qualified in 1904, became a MD in 1908 and moved to Colchester in 1910.

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher

This plaque was erected in 2019 at one of the former Colchester homes of Margaret Thatcher, who became the first woman Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1979.
Having graduated from Oxford in 1947, Margaret Thatcher nee Roberts moved to Colchester to take up employment as a research chemist for BX Plastics in Brantham. The plaque was unveiled by Will Quince MP for Colchester at the Colchester English Study Centre, 19 Lexden Road, Colchester CO3 3PW- one of the three places in Colchester where the former Prime Minister once lived – the other locations being Maldon Road and Cambridge Road.


Plaques commemorating former military sites

After months of planning with Taylor Wimpey House Builders, in January 2018 the Society arranged the unveiling of two plaques commemorating important former military sites. Here are few photos, taken at Arena Place and Mersea Road. The latter commemorates the Hyderabad and Meeannee Barracks.


Charles Haddon Spurgeon

The Charles Haddon Spurgeon Plaque was erected on the small church in Artillery Street to mark the site of his conversion. Spurgeon lived on Hythe Hill. One morning in 1850, when he was about 15 years old, he was walking to church when a heavy snowstorm impeded his journey. He decided to turn into Artillery Street and attend the service at a small Primitive Methodist Church instead.


Frank Daniell

The Frank Daniell Plaque was unveiled on Tuesday 20th May 2014. This was installed on the front of the house on East Hill, where he lived for much of his life.
Rosemary Jewers tells here the story of her research in preparation for erecting the Frank Daniell Plaque.
In October 2013 I was sent correspondence and photocopies relating to the Colchester artist and portrait painter, Frank Robinson Daniell. The object was for me to take on the task of organising a blue plaque to commemorate his life and achievements.