The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded £3,267,400 towards a major redevelopment of Colchester Castle, Essex. The medieval fortress, built in the eleventh century, is one of the best surviving examples of Norman architecture in England.
“This is fantastic news”, said Tom Hodgson, Project Manager. “We are now able to put all our planning into practice and create exciting new displays that do justice to Colchester’s nationally important heritage, the outstanding collections and the amazing building in which they are housed”.
Councillor Nick Barlow, Portfolio Holder Commerce and Sustainability, added, “This funding will ensure that the Castle continues as a top quality visitor attraction for tourists and as a place in which local residents and schoolchildren can learn and take pride in the long history of their town”.
Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, says, “This project is a fantastic opportunity to transform Colchester Castle into a 21st century heritage attraction at the heart of this Garrison town. Through new interpretation and people getting involved, the castle will continue to celebrate our heritage for generations to come.”
The HLF are contributing 77% of the funding towards this £4.2m project. The match funding comes from Colchester Borough Council, the EU, Renaissance museum hub funding, the Friends of Colchester Museums and Essex Heritage Trust.
The museum will be working with the Yorkshire based firm, Redman Design, on plans for exciting and accessible fresh new approach to interpreting the town’s past through collections and stories. The aim is to attract a larger and broader range of audiences and to encourage more repeat visits from local residents.
The story of Colchester will be told from its foundation over 2000 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 like the Town Walls and Roman Circus. A range of interpretation will appear around the town at key heritage sites.
At the same time the museum shop and other public facilities will be improved. A second lift will be installed to make it easier for all visitors to find their way around the building. The roof will be insulated for the first time and a new under-floor heating system will be installed to improve the building’s energy efficiency.
Adrian Pritchard, Chief Executive at Colchester Borough Council says, “This is a significant phase in the Castle’s history. It’s a step towards presenting our past for the future. Creating a visitor attraction that shows Colchester is a first class destination for local people, as well as putting Colchester on the world platform for tourism.”
In 2009 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded the museum £265,300 in funding to develop the project the first stage of this process. Over the last year the project has been worked on intensively and detailed plans have been drawn up about what restoration and development work was needed at Colchester Castle. The museum project team consulted widely with local people and set up two user forums to inform the development of the new displays and visitor facilities.
Source: Colchester Borough Council