garden photography: urban spaces

December is the month for Urban floral displays

(Flowers found in Urban spaces – a town square, a flower tub, a hanging basket, a floral clock or any floral display including a public park. And as we are approaching Christmas you could even share with me your town’s Christmas lights)

Colchester’s Castle Park is right in the centre of the town. Dominated by the castle, it provides a wonderful green lung for locals and visitors alike. On a very warm and sunny September morning I enjoyed a stroll through this urban space – so put on your walking shoes and come and join me.

Most impressive are the entrance railings and gates. (Grade II Listed). which are late nineteenth century.

The Gates
The Gates

The dominating Norman castle.


This bee display in front of the castle is very eye-catching.


Castle Park was opened on 15 October 1892. It is divided into the Upper Park and Lower Park by the Roman Wall that crosses through it east to west. The park spans an area of 11 hectares and is listed Grade II in the English Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Importance.

View of the gates and war memorial
View of the gates and war memorial

Roses were still in bloom in early September

The site once formed part of the Roman City of Colonia Vitricensis and where a Temple of Claudius stood in honour of the Roman Empire until the city fell to Boudicca in 60/61 AD.

Later, in 1076, the Normans built a castle on top of the Temple remains and it was once used as a prison where those accused of heresy and witchcraft were held.

(In the early part of the 17th century, the prison was used by Mathew Hopkins, Witchfinder General, to interrogate witches – A sign of a true witch was a part of the body where the witch showed no pain (Witches Mark) One of his techniques was prick the witch with a pin all over her body – when the witch did not scream he had found her mark.)

The Normans also built an earth bank which covered the Roman wall and a ditch to enclose the Castle Bailey. This is now a flower garden.

The Ditch
The Ditch

In 1727 Charles Gray, a lawyer, antiquary and Tory Member of Parliament for Colchester, was given the castle and surrounding land as a present from his mother-in-law to form a large garden for his house Hollytrees. He remodelled the earth bank and created a tree-lined walk which leads to the summer-house in the form of a classic temple at one end and a stone arch at the other.

The Summerhouse
The summer-house
Stone arch
Stone arch

A path leads down to the Mayor’s pathway where the Lucas-Lisle Memorial stands. The obelisk is the first memorial in Castle Park, dedicated to two Royalist Officers, Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle who were shot during the siege of 1648 at the end of the Siege of Colchester. Constructed in 1892 on the site where the men are thought to have been executed.

The Obelisk
The Obelisk
North side of the castle
North side of the castle

A tranquil spot is the Imola Garden Pond where dozens of large Koi carp give pleasure to many visitors (NB: During the cleaning of the pond in November the fish were removed and transferred to a large container which was vandalised during the night resulting in the death of 45 fish including all of the oldest, rarest and most valuable Koi Carp that had lived in the pond for many years. A youth, who was drunk at the time, was later arrested and charged for the crime)


There is also a sensory garden and a dry garden within the park and in the Lower Garden, a model boating pond.

Sensory Garden Bench
Sensory Garden Bench

Hollytrees House (Grade I Listed Building) was built 1718 and the garden and Castle grounds laid out by Charles Gray c.1729. The garden to south front is enclosed by original eighteenth century railings and the house is now a museum taking in domestic life and childhood in Colchester over the past 300 years.


Do you have a town park to share? Maybe your town has won an award for its public planting?

If you would like to join in with Garden Photography then please take a look at my Garden Photography Page. No complicated rules🙂

  • Create your own post and title it DecemberUrban Spaces
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Add the tag “GardenChallenge” so everyone can find the posts easily in the WP Reader
  • Get your post in by the end of the month. This is the final month of the challenge.
  • Please visit the sites in the comments to see what others are posting.

34 thoughts on “garden photography: urban spaces

  1. What a lovely park, with so much to see. That’s a sad story about the fish – I’m glad they caught the person responsible. I realise I missed a whole month of your theme – and I had a couple of photos I was going to use! I’ll have to get my skates on so that I don’t miss December’s theme too.

  2. I hope my daughter’s partner doesn’t expect me to give him a castle! Best not to share this post with him. How sad to read that the fish tank was vandalised. What a beautiful garden in which to spend a day, Jude.

    1. Yes, it was sad to hear about the fish – the lad had apparently drunk 11 pints and didn’t know what he was doing. He escaped a custodial sentence and given 200 hours of community service as he showed remorse.

        1. Well I figure if I can afford a place with acres of land then I would be able to afford to have staff! In my dreams! No actually what I really would like is a reasonably sized walled garden. That’s my real dream.

  3. This is a bit like my city park. Colchester’s castle is very Norman though. Love the gate and that last shot with the sun shining through the ‘I can’t remember what it is for a minute’ plant 🙂

    1. You must have a nice park then, any photos? And I think the last plant is a Canna Lily. I always used to think of them with very tatty foliage, but recently I have seen some really lovely colours.

  4. What a superb finale to your year of challenges, Jude! Though I know it’s not the last post this really is a lovely one, from the bees all the way down to the Cannas. 🙂

  5. Wonderful, so wonderful . . .and makes me ashamed that on my last 4 visits to Colchester I never went and explored the park. Convinced nothing to see in the town so spent time nattering with family who live on edges of Colchester or birding in the surrounding countryside!

    1. I wasn’t expecting much in Colchester, even though it is an old town; I thought it would be very busy and ugly (and some of it is), but the park surprised me.

  6. Jude I see the answer to my question about title. I will keep an eye out for future opportunities!
    So sad about the fish. My goodness what is with some people!
    Gorgeous images and the bee display is extraordinary.

    1. No worries about the title Sue. I am happy for you to link whenever you think you have a suitable post. Yes, it is sad to think that my photos could possibly be of fish that are no more. Stupid how a young lad could drink so much or be served so much. Alcohol has a lot to answer for. I do enjoy my glass of red wine, just not a gallon of it!

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