Which of the new Jubilee cities really deserves the title?


Notable heritage: 6/10

If we stick to the official date of foundation (January 23, 1967), not much. If we assume that the new town incorporated four older ones – including Wolverton, which is listed in the Domesday Book, and Fenny Stratford, which was the Roman “Magiovinium” – then you have two millennia of quiet British life.

Architectural marvels: 4/10

The choices, if we’re being honest, are relatively slim. There’s a certain glassy elegance to the facade of Central Station – but otherwise much of Milton Keynes’ “downtown” fades into a largely undramatic modernity.

Cultural Power: 6/10

Milton Keynes Theater (atgtickets.com/venues/milton-keynes-theatre) has earned a solid reputation since it opened in 1999. A cynic might say that its arrival 32 years after the city appeared on the map suggests that culture wasn’t a massive priority in this exciting new urban project – but this 1,400-seat venue stages opera and ballet performances, as well as theater, and is doing quite well, but very well

Famous lineage: 6/10

You could name Alan Turing, the revolutionary computer scientist, who worked on the road at Bletchley Park – but was born in London. So it was Everton and former England footballer Dele Alli, and darts player Fallon Sherrock, who made waves in 2019 as the first woman to win a match at the PDC World Championships.

Sporting prowess: 2/10

There’s little out-of-town love for the local football team, MK Dons (mkdons.com). Notoriously, until 2004, the club was the original incarnation of South London side Wimbledon, until a controversial move took away its identity.

Did you know?

The site of Milton Keynes was chosen in order to create a city roughly equidistant from London, Birmingham, Leicester, Oxford and Cambridge.

Total score: 24/50

Colchester, England

The essential

Crucial foundation stone of ancient Britain, in the pastures of East Essex.

Notable heritage: 10/10

Yes indeed. In Roman times, Colchester was “Camulodunum” – a prominent point on the map which became the first capital of Roman Britain (in the first century AD). It was so big and so important, in fact, that when the Iceni rebellion began in AD 61, the city found itself in Boudicca’s crosshairs. The ensuing fighting practically leveled it, which necessitated a long period of reconstruction.

Architectural marvels: 10/10

In parts of Colchester, 2,000 years – and the fury of Boudicca – fades. Certainly, you can trace its earliest era in the remaining stretches of its Roman walls, the ruins of a once vast amphitheater and the remains of a temple dedicated to the deified emperor Claudius (one of the bones of contention of the Iceni). The latter is next to Colchester Castle (colchester.cimuseums.org.uk) – bringing the story back to Norman times.


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