Castle building in Colchester

PUBLISHED: 17:06 10 January 2014 | UPDATED: 17:06 10 January 2014




Now home to an award-winning museum, Colchester Castle is the town’s most famous landmark and is home to some of the county’s rarest and most significant Roman artefacts. The castle closed to the public in January 2013, after visitors had been given the opportunity to explore the empty castle one final time before it went off limits to allow significant renovations to commence.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded £3,267,400 towards a major redevelopment of Colchester Castle back in 2011, contributing 77% of the funding towards the £4.2m project. 
The equally vital match funding comes from Colchester Borough Council, the European Union through the Norman Connections project, Renaissance Museum Hub Funding, the Friends 
of Colchester Museums, the Essex Heritage Trust and the Friends of Colchester Roman Wall.

Tim Young, cabinet member, councillor and portfolio holder for planning, community, safety and culture, explains how the HLF has given Colchester Castle Museum an irresistible opportunity to refurbish. ‘This will be a brand new state-of-the-art museum for the 21st century, that will hopefully produce a museum experience that will be unforgettable for everyone,’ says Tim.

‘The displays have been there for more than 20 years and were looking a bit tired, although it was still an impressive display and museum. We put a bid in for funding, which was fortunately successful, and this has enabled us to create an experience for people to come back time after time. There will be 1,000 lights, lots of interactivity and digital activities. In fact, everything people expect from our traditional displays with modern technology.’

Necessary building works to the 
castle have been arranged by local 
Essex contractor Huttons, including re-pointing the exterior, new insulation for the roof, installing a new lift, under-floor heating and upgrading the plumbing. The design of the interior was created to ensure that the museum will be exciting, accessible and will offer a new approach to interpreting the collection. The aim is to attract a larger and broader range of audiences and to encourage more repeat visits from local residents. Cutting edge technology and interactive displays will further enhance visitors’ experiences.

Stephen Marsh, one of the designers from Yorkshire-based firm Redman Design, revealed how visitors can expect something memorable, with the reinterpretation of the Boudicca Revolt story particular exciting.

Stephen comments: ‘The story is presented as a dramatic and absorbing immersive AV film that is presented on two, large, ceiling-hung video projection screens. As part of the Roman circus story a chariot race video game with replica chariot will allow visitors to experience the thrills and spills of what would have been a highly competitive and dangerous sport.

‘The main change to the castle interior is that for the first time in a long time the castle spaces can be more easily seen and appreciated. The display structures have been paired back and in some instances given a degree of transparency to allow clear, uninterrupted vistas of many key castle features. The castle, along with its new displays and stories, will form a visually stimulating and engaging experience for visitors both old and new. Through various new interpretative and mixed media techniques, this castle and its collections will be brought to life.’

The story of Colchester will be told from its foundation more than 2,000 years ago to the Siege of Colchester in 1648. The history and features of Colchester Castle will be revealed and interpreted to give people a much better sense of the scale and importance of this unique building. The castle displays will also be used as a starting point and a link to discovering other heritage sites 
in Colchester, including the Town Walls and Roman Circus, with a range of interaction appearing around the town at key heritage sites.

Paul Sealey has been an archaeologist at Colchester & Ipswich Museums 
for 35 years and is responsible for the collections that will be put into the new-look Colchester Castle Museum.

‘For the castle redevelopment project 
I have been working out what Iron Age and Roman material will be put into the new museum,’ says Paul. ‘It’s proving to be a difficult job because there are so many wonderful exhibits to choose from, but we haven’t room for them all.

‘Of course, the objects in the new galleries and the stories behind them need explaining and new text has been produced to let visitors know where each object was found, when it was made and why it is important or interesting. 
As well as object labels, we have text panels explaining major topics such as why Britain was invaded by the Romans in the first place.’

Colchester’s most famous landmark will welcome back it’s visitors when it opens in spring this year, and will enrich the experience of visitors tomorrow and for future generations.

Tim adds: ‘The biggest thing no one knows yet, and personally my favourite thing that I am looking forward to most, is the audio visuals that are going to be up against one of the walls in the castle. When we took all of the artefacts out and exposed one of the walls, we felt we couldn’t cover up this space as it was so spectacular. We are also going to give local people the opportunity to hire the space in the evenings and use it for their own projection. I really can’t wait for it to open and to reveal it to the public, but also so I can experience it myself.’


More from Out & About

Tue, 16:32

We’ve put together 15 questions that will push your knowledge of Essex to the limit - let us know how you’ve done on social media!

Read more
Tue, 14:17

From James Bond to Batman, Essex has been known to bask in a little Hollywood glitz. Here are 19 that have used our county’s incredible locations on the big screen

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

Spend Halloween hunting down ghouls and ghosts in the county’s most haunted places and spaces. We pick 10 absolutely terrifying locations to visit this October.

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Chelmsford is on the rise, blossoming from its city status. One iconic landmark which has been part of the landscape for 300 years, and is also enjoying a renaissance, is Hylands House. Petra Hornsby reveals more

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Laurie Page of the Public Rights of Way Team at Essex County Council shares with us this beautiful six-mile walk around Bradwell’s stunning coastal delights

Read more
Friday, October 5, 2018

With one of the warmest and driest summers on record, this year has been a difficult one for gardeners. Susie Bulman from The Beth Chatto Gardens at Elmstead Market shares some top tips for plant survival, even in these conditions

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Our county’s remaining windmills stand the test of time as a tribute to a bygone era. Mica Bale highlights some of the best examples in Essex

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Whether you’re looking for a memorable day trip or an impromptu weekend getaway, Essex is a perfect patchwork of all the little things we love about Britain. Proudly showcasing the charm of the county, we pick 13 towns you must visit when planning a trip to Essex

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

This walk from the town of Bures on the Essex and Suffolk border leads you through the Essex countryside to the little villages of Alphamstone and Lamarsh | Words and photos: Laurie Page Public Rights of Way Team at Essex County Council

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A popular Southend escape game venue has launched a new room inspired by the town’s seafaring past

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search