Just a couple of months ago at Colchester Arts Centre I was introduced to Alice Goss who was visiting to find out more about the venue’s history. Alice has been a welcome visitor ever since providing updates on her local discoveries. I’ve invited Alice to tell us more about her new project.
Ben Howard

Colchester is a fascinating town with a rich and varied history as compared to her neighbours of Ipswich and Chelmsford.

If I was to ask you a question about what you know about the history of this town, you may well reply by mentioning the Romans, Queen Boudica and the Civil War, probably without mentioning many of the important facts surrounding these events. My answer would have been much the same last year.

My name is Alice, and I am starting to discover more of the facts surrounding the history of this great town. The more I research what has happened here in the past, the more I discover something interesting which makes me think: “wow I didn’t know that” and that makes me feel good about living in this town. Did you know that Colchester Castle is not the oldest building in the town and that there are still gas lamps in the town, if you know where to look?

The most interesting aspect is not the buildings or the historical events which have occurred here, but the people behind those events and the story’s that they leave behind. One of my hobbies is graves research (Taphophilia), an activity that I came across by accident the other year when I researched the grave of John Newton at the church of St. Peter & St. Paul in Olney. He had an interesting life, as a priest and was also as an avid campaigner with his friend, William Wilbourforce, on the abolition of slavery, an event which eventually happened in 1834 after these men had died. Newton even wrote the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ as well as few others, which I found interesting, as this is a hymn which I’ve played many times.

Ever since then, I’ve looked at graves and church wall plaques in a different light, researching the lives of the deceased to unlock their stories. Over the course of the years, in various parts of the country, I’ve found old soldiers who have fought in various campaigns and battles, wealthy merchants, talented artists and ordinary citizens who have experienced; joy, hardship and tragedy during their lifetimes. Some of their stories would not look out of place being played out as a television mini drama!

Last year I decided to look into Colchester’s past and began to look more at the churches and the old buildings, locating graves and researching their occupants further in connection with the town’s history. Many of my friends were amazed at my findings, so I decided to write them down in a Facebook page called: Interesting in Colchester for everyone to read. The page is gathering more followers every day, which is really encouraging.

Over the coming weeks and months regular posts will appear on the Facebook page telling the story of some aspect of Colchester’s history which I hope you will find interesting. Photos of places and items that you probably never knew existed along with other photos showing this great town at her best, including her local wildlife.

All I ask is that you share the posts with your friends, comment and engage with the Facebook page so that my efforts are appreciated and made more worthwhile. Thank you.

Alice Goss

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