Colchester Castle will re-open to the public on May 2 following a £4million refurbishment, it has been announced.

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The Castle museum, closed since March 2013, has undergone a major redevelopment programme, which was made possible through a £3.2million Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant, and further support coming from the EU Norman Connection, Colchester Borough Council, Arts Council, Roman Wall Society and the friends of Colchester Museums.

The refurbished museum will offer improved access and interpretation of Colchester Castle’s fascinating collections and histories.

Considered to be of national and international significance, it was once home to the Temple to the Emperor Claudius who made Colchester the capital of Roman Britain in AD43.

After its destruction by Queen of the Iceni’s Boudica, the Normans recognised the significance of the site and chose it to build a status castle for William the Conqueror.

The building has also been a Royal Residence, a jail, a base for Mathew Hopkins, the ‘Witchfinder General’, in 1645, and from 1860 it has been in use as Colchester’s main museum housing collections from prehistory to the Civil War.

Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the East of England, Robyn Llewellyn, said: “Colchester Castle is one of the finest surviving Norman buildings in Britain, a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Grade I listed. We are delighted to see the opening of the refurbished museum in sight, and look forward to the reinterpretation of some the most fascinating stories in our Island’s history.”

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