Colchester town centre is packed with shops with only the odd empty shop here and there. The town centre is compact, a rectangle with High Street running across the top, Sir Isaacs Walk/Eld Lane/Short Wyre Street across the the bottom. Head Street makes up the left hand side, and Queen Street the right.
The High Street boasts the big Williams and Griffins department store, now part of Fenwick’s and undergoing a massive renovation. The High Street hosts the market on Fridays and Saturdays. Independent bookshop Red Lion Books is worth looking out for, as is Waterstone’s. There are some chain burger and fried chicken fast food outlets, but check out Three Wise Monkeys for some US-style smoked meats and 20 beers on tap! Marks and Spencers fronts onto the High Street.
Built south of the High Street, taking it’s name from the historic Red Lion hotel and the narrow Red Lion Walk. Lion Walk offers a mix of local independent retailers alongside top High Street brands, including Marks & Spencers, BHS, Boots, WH Smiths, River Island, Body Shop. Lion Walk website
The Culver Square shopping centre sits at the west end of the town centre. It includes Debenhams, Clarks, HMV, Schuh and other shops. Culver Square Shopping website
Running between Culver Square and Lion Walk is Trinity Street, at the top end of which is the historic Trinity Church, which has the oldest doorway in the country, and it’s tower (Anglo Saxon) predates the castle! The church hosts the GO4 cafe, and a vintage and craft market.
Until recently a clock museum, the historical Tymperley building is now as cafe, accessible through an archway which has Greyfriars Bookshop on the left, and another cafe on the right.
Sir Isaacs Walk/Eld Lane/Short Wyre Street
Running along the bottom of the town centre is a long narrow lane which starts out as Sir Isaacs Walk, becomes Eld Lane, and finally Short Wyre Street. There are lots of boutique and independent shops, and we can recommend Jacqueline’s Tea Room (a hint of the 1940s!). There are two sets of public toilets along this stretch.
Marking the western end of the town centre is Head Street, which has the town’s Odeon cinema. Debenham’s fronts onto the street. Check out Church Street, which leads to the Arts Centre and Mercury Theatre, Jumbo the water tower, for the Courthouse cafe, and the Church Street Tavern (both recommended by us!)
The right-hand side of the town centre is marked by Queen Street, which runs down from the Castle to Colchester Town railway station and St. Botolph’s Circus (a big roundabout!)
From the bottom left of the town centre, head along Crouch Street (past the decaying old Odeon) and go over/under the road to find a few more independent shops including Gunton’s delicatessen.