Ipswich/Colchester: Oldest English town claim continues to spark debate

Colchester's Norman Castle

Colchester's Norman Castle - Credit: Archant

THE Star’s campaign to champion Ipswich as England’s oldest town has ruffled feathers with our Essex neighbours.

Colchester believes it has the right to be named “the nation’s oldest recorded town” but Ipswich claims to be the “oldest Anglo Saxon town”.

Tim Young, Colchester Borough Council’s portfolio holder for culture, told the BBC that Ipswich needs to find a different selling point and not use the words “oldest” and “town”.

He said: “I think Ipswich is trying to get a distinctive feature to its marketing.

“But if there is any dispute, I think most historians would back Colchester’s claim.”

Ipswich’s wording is based on the town being continuously inhabited since Anglo Saxon times.

Mr Young, who disputes Ipswich’s claim, added: “There is evidence the Anglo Saxons lived in the ruins and when the Normans arrived, they built our castle.”

Most Read

An Ipswich Borough Council spokesman has stated the “oldest Anglo Saxon town” wording will not change.

“We are proud of our status as the oldest Anglo Saxon town and have used it for some years in our tourism promotions,” he added.

“But we have no quarrel with Colchester and believe having two such historic centres so close can only be good for attracting visitors to the region.”

Ipswich Star editor Terry Hunt believes the town’s heritage should be highlighted.

He said: “Colchester was prominent in the Roman times but after that it was abandoned and the Anglo Saxons made Ipswich an important place. That is why we believe our town should be recognised as the oldest English town.

“Ipswich’s rich heritage deserves to be championed.”