A VISIT TO COLCHESTER

An April Tuesday, the weather was rather wintry; it was sunny in the morning but with hail showers in p.m. My sister had a letter from the A.A. – she hasn’t joined this year. I got up early, as did sister Tiggie, which made her tired later. For breakfast we had fried egg and sausage. We took the dog out to Spur Lane on the way up to the city. Tig drove me to Norwich railway station and then went to work where she had (by her account) a dull day. She did have a phone call from the Estate Agent to say he was sending someone else to view the offices that we were trying to let.4 At lunchtime she walked Fido along the riverside at Whitlingham.

Meanwhile I was on the train to Colchester. I had bought my reading matter at W. H. Smith’s to keep me occupied on the journey. I bought the Eastern Daily Press, which I had finished by the time the train rolled into Colchester, so I left it in case anyone was interested in reading it. It takes just over a hour for the train to get from Norwich to Colchester. I had already begun my lunch on the train, although it was only 10.45, so I had to take the rest with me to finish it later.

My first call was at the Castle. Construction of the keep began in 1076, probably under the supervision of Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester, who had built the White Tower in London. William the Conqueror ordered a castle to be built at Colchester on the strategic route between East Anglia and London. The building makes extensive use of Roman materials, especially brick, so it is quite different from another Norrman Castle, that at Norwich, which is made of imported freestone.

COLCHESTER…ROMAN.GLASSWARE

The collection at the Castle museum has a fine assortment of Roman artefacts. Colchester was the first capital of Britain before Londinium. Colchester was destroyed by Queen Boudicca in her Rebellion and in its rebuilt state it ceded its place to London.

Then it was to the Castle Bookshop, where I spent a couple of hours browsing. I found two 17th century pamphlets which I bought for £6.50. Right at the end of my stay I came across a little volume of songs of 1820 The Music Cabinet which cost me £24. I called at the George for a drink of Fosters. In the afternoon I found another two bookshops, the Trinity Street one was particularly good with lots of lovely books. I got a First Edition of Grove’s Dictionary of Music. I walked past the Goat and Boot to the Book Exchange where I bought a biography of John Barbirolli for 75p.

On the way back to the station I got caught in a hail storm and got wet. I had to wait about 50 minutes for the train but at least I had plenty of books to read in the waiting room! Luckily the train was made up of old coaching stock, so I had a nice comfy compartment to snuggle down in. Just as I had left an EDP on the way down, someone had left a Telegraph at Colchester, so I had that to read as we sped homewards. The purchaser of the paper had begun (but not finished) the crossword.

This was before the line from Ipswich was electrified, so my train was diesel hauled.

My sister met the train and took me home; someone had hit a cock pheasant on the road, so we stopped and picked it up. This will make us a pleasant meal for us later. We had game soup for supper and in the evening I lit the fire. We watched Hinge and Brackett on the TV.

[12/04/1982]

JOSEPH MASON

joemasonspage@gmail.com

THE BLOG FOR MEMORIES OF EAST ANGLIAN LIFE

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