Search site

Oyster Fisheries Opening Ceremony

Date Issued: 21 August 2017

The opening of the Colne Oyster Fisheries ceremony, one of Colchester's oldest and most celebrated annual traditions, will take place on Friday 1 September.

The annual gin and gingerbread ceremony will take place at Cudmore Grove County Park, East Mersea, within sight of Mersea Stone where the old Blockhouse ceremony was held to traditionally mark the Opening of the Oyster Fishery.

Dating back to 1540, the traditional ceremony dictates that Colchester's Mayor, Colchester Borough Council's Chief Executive and the Town Serjeant wear full regalia and play key roles in the ceremony. It is formally witnessed by approximately 40 guests who, following the ceremony, will be served a lunch including oysters.

The Proclamation, an ancient tongue-twister, will be read by Chief Executive Adrian Pritchard to officially declare the fishery open for the season. The Mayor and Mayoress, Cllrs Gerard and Beverley Oxford, will then raise the loyal toast to The Queen, accompanied by drinking gin and eating gingerbread.

A letter has been sent to The Queen at Buckingham Palace, which stated: "According to ancient Custom and Charter dating back to Norman times, the Mayor and Councillors of the Colchester Borough Council will formally proclaim the Opening of the Colne Oyster Fishery for the coming season and will drink to your Majesty's long life and health and request respectfully to offer to your Majesty their expressions of dutiful loyalty and devotion."

The Queen has responded with thanks to the Mayor and councillors for their loyal greetings and sending warm good wishes for the Ceremony.

The Mayor of Colchester, Councillor Gerard Oxford, said: "The tradition of oysters and oyster fisheries in Colchester is nearly 2000 years old and I am delighted to be part of this year's long-held ceremony. This will be a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and enjoy the start of this years' oyster harvest."  

The coach will leave the Town Hall at approximately 10:30am (after the Merchant Navy flag-raising ceremony on the Town Hall steps at 10:00am), to arrive at the Country Park at 11.00am. After the Ceremony, the coach will transfer guests from the Country Park to the lunch venue and subsequently return to the Town Hall later in the afternoon.

For more information on the Mayor and Town Hall heritage visit