Book Launched – Twice! And more material arrives immediately!

The book is now in the shops!

The Mayor of Colchester, Cllr John Elliott, officially launched the publication on 2nd December in the historic setting of the Red Lion Hotel.

Book Launch Mayor (web)

The Deputy Mayor, Cllr Theresa Higgins, contributors to the book, local historians and archeaeologists and guests including senior staff from OMCI, the new owners of Grey Friars heard the story of its conception and viewed the accompanying website. Copies can be purchased from Red Lion Books, in Colchester High Street.

On Monday 8th December it was the turn of residents of the Grey Friars site (the Roman/Castle Roads area) to attend their own launch at the Foresters Arms – and to share their historic records, photos and stories associated with their houses.

A wealth of material was brought along and will soon be collated, edited and added to this site. Visit us again in the near future for more fascinating material.

(New items will be displayed in the News and Resources sections)



Leave A Comment

  1. Reply

    Came to the event – fascinating! Many thanks to all concerned, so much to take in, didn’t know of all the famous connections. Looking forward to a good read over Christmas! Thanks again.

  2. Reply

    I attended both launches and was impressed with the presentations and the interset shown in the “project” by all those who attended. It was interesting to talk to the “Staff” of the new Hotel and see their enthusiasm to preserve the historicity of the site, when the Hotel is opened, and to give residents an opportunity to see the Publication. People at the Residents Meeting, who were new to Colchester, were very pleased and interested to recieve a copy of the book and to learn more about Grey Friars and the surrounding area. A big thank you to Alan & Joan for the hard work they have devoted ove the past seven years to make the book such a sucess. JOHN KNIGHT – Chair of CALA

  3. Reply
    Project Team

    Thanks to both of you for your kind comments. The project has certainly caught the interest of the community and, if early sales are anything to go by, the book should generate even more interest via this website. We look forward to many more contributions of information, memories and comments from all who have an interest in the site and its occupants over the decades.

  4. Reply
    Lifelong Learner

    This site has so much local significance! It’s mind-boggling enough to think of all the local people who have been through here: as pupils of the nuns, students of the Girls’ High and adult learners through “Grey Friars” (as the adult college was lovingly known). But all this extra information about the people and uses of the site hundreds of years before the first school was set up! A fascinating study. This will be a book to re-read and dip into again and again. And to pass on to family and friends for a long time to come. Many thanks to all involved!

  5. Reply

    Seen the book. It’s brilliant. Such a lot of detail, such a lot of history in such a small area (less than a square mile?). Like the interactive aspect through this website. Real ‘old fashioned’ adult education (not meant as a negative comment, quite the opposite). Please keep it going. So much more to share, so much more to discover surely seeing as there have been so many pupils and students as well as families involved in the various buildings now on the site. Really good social and community history. Don’t stop here!

  6. Reply
    Edward Fenn

    An important contribution to understanding life behind the façade. It is no dry regurgitation of facts, its widespread research reaches deeply into the lives of the occupiers over the centuries. A glimpse of now past worlds.

    nb From Project Team:
    This comment comes from the grandson of the last owner of Grey Friars as a family home – Dr Edward Living Fenn who occupied the house from 1891 to 1903 – and is much appreciated, as was his contribution to the research from the family archive:

  7. Reply

    I visited Grey Friars earlier this month. While I was there I picked up a copy of your book, because I was interested to read which families had owned the building. I noticed that one owner had been Capt. Fitzroy Wilson. Thinking he could have been a relative of mine, I have done some research about him. I have written up a short piece, which I hope to put on a family website sometime soon. If you are interested I can forward the whole one page article to you. I have added a few lines from it below……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… “Wilson who had lived at Grey Friars, Colchester, was the son of Henry and Caroline Wilson and the great grandson of the 3rd Duke of Grafton. He was born at Stowlangtoft Hall in 1840. He attended Harrow school and later joined the Rifle Brigade. He married Annie Elizabeth Laughton, the daughter of a Colonel.”

    1. Reply
      Project Team

      Thanks Rosemary, much appreciated. It has been very gratifying to receive responses such as yours – especially when they’re accompanied by more material for our project! Thanks also for your subsequent email with more information. It will soon be posted in the Resources section, accessed by clicking on the button in the top menu bar.

  8. Reply
    Penny (Eastbourne, Sussex)

    Thank you so much for sending ‘Grey Friars’ to me. I have started to ‘dip’ into it and am finding it fascinating. I was at Grey Friars for the last 3 complete academic years that CCHS was in occupation and have such very happy memories of my time there. I have never forgotten the beautiful Holm Oak, and being taken, aged 12, to read Midsummer Night’s Dream in class in the arbour may well have started my lifelong interest in Shakespeare! Penny Armstrong (nee Jackson).

  9. Reply
    Mal Clarke

    Just read your comprehensive book on the Grey Friars region of Colchester.
    Having visited Colchester recently through the Local History group of the Rayleigh Grange U3A it was a pleasure to get to know about your book. Having had the opportunity to visit Colchester and have a guide take us around the towns historical sites it made my day when having spoken to a decorator painting the outside of the building (for its eight life no doubt) it was mentioned that your book could be obtained from The Foresters Arms.
    The book brought back many memories as I studied there during a period of learning at the then North East Essex Technical College and School of Art based in Sheepen Road during 1965-67. Grey Friars was used as an annex for the Computer studies I was undertaking and in particular studying Statistics under a tutor named Ron Clarke. The room used was on the right on the ground floor named in your book as reception? We used to either walk from Sheepen road or go by car entering the site at the back via a very narrow entrance just after the Foresters pub. The back entrance and the front entrance was I thought at the time always grand and I can concur that the whole building had an air suitable for learning.
    The book is a little gem in itself….we will certainly be visiting the building now we understand it is a hotel, conference centre and public house.
    Best Wishes.
    Mal Clarke.