Colchester, Essex, and on to Kent
by Mary Mettler
Although I am trying to stick to genealogy sites, my niece, Bonnie, and I did squeeze in some sightseeing. Neither of us had been to Colchester, one of the oldest cities in England with Celtic origins. After the Roman conquest in AD 43, the town was the site of the first Roman fortress in Britain and shortly thereafter the largest Roman Temple in Britain, the Temple of Claudius. The temple remained in some form through the Anglo-Saxon period until the Normans arrived and built Colchester Castle, using the foundation of the Temple for the Castle and its rubble as building stones. Today, the Castle is an excellent museum with activities for children and adults, short videos, interactive exhibits, and excellent historical relics and information. Bonnie and I couldn’t resist some of the kids’ fun! Here I am with my trusty Roman shield. Bonnie raced her chariot against the Romans and managed to finish second without crashing, a feat unmatched by others we watched!
We left Colchester for what we thought would be a short drive over the QE II Bridge into Kent and on to the town of Tenterden. We expected congestion on the Bridge but sailed right over it. Whee, easy day! Little did we know that we would hit the most massive traffic jam I have ever been in! We were on the main M-20 motorway [think freeway] toward the EuroTunnel, when we came to a dead standstill. The tunnel was closed and our 6-lane motorway had been converted to a parking lot for some 17,000 trucks waiting to cross either through the tunnel or by ferry. Watch this video if you want a really good look at this traffic mess! I won’t be complaining about our Bay Bridge traffic for a long time! We could not avoid it coming from Colchester in Essex to Kent. All the car traffic was shunted off to side roads, right where some of our Kent ancestral towns are. It took us five hours to go forty miles! We did not want to fight the mess again the next day, so we had to abandon the northern part of Kent, which includes Canterbury, much to our dismay, as well as Selling, the origin of our Hatch line.
While we are in tourist mode, I want to post some pictures of Sissinghurst Castle Garden, near Cranbrook, Kent. When I posted them on Facebook, much of the color was lost, one of tech’s many mysteries! I certainly recommend this site, as the Garden is a wonderful example of a mid-twentieth century English garden. The story of Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson is a fascinating one as well, so don’t miss the exhibit about them at the Castle.
Next week: Back to ancestral towns!
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