Take your sleeping bag and explore Colchester Castle after dark

How does a sleepover at Colchester Castle sound? Picture: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCIL

How does a sleepover at Colchester Castle sound? Picture: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCIL - Credit: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCIL

An overnight guest was ‘never the same’ after sleeping over at Colchester Castle - but how will you fare?

Families are being invited to spend the night at the Norman keep - which was once the location of the Colchester with trials.

Knightzzz at the Museum takes place on October 20 following a successful trial in March.

Families will be given a designated sleeping space in either the prison, chapel, scriptorium or on the main floor of the castle.

The night will begin with a tour of the Grade I listed building and there will family-friendly activities throughout the evening.

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Late night hot chocolates will be served before bed and survivors will be offered breakfast the following morning.

Guests will be relieved to hear that despite the castle dating back to 1076 and having a number of people die on the premises there have not been any reported ghost stories.

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However, legend has it that sometime around the early 1930s a man slept in the castle overnight for a bet. In the early hours of the morning the local policeman heard wild shouts and saw the man in a crazed state on top of the castle walls. The man was brought down safely but was described as “never being the same again”.

In 1645 the infamous Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins, was invited by some prominent local men, including the then Mayor of Colchester, to use the castle as a base for interrogating women suspected of witchcraft.

A total of 23 women were interrogated there, a process which, as well as questioning, involved sleep deprivation and full bodily examinations. Unsurprisingly, after days without sleep the women become delirious, barely registered pain and would confess to whatever was being suggested.

Out of those 23 women, four died from a combination of the treatment they received and the insanitary conditions in the castle while the other 19 were tried in Chelmsford and sentenced to hang.

Councillor Tim Young, portfolio holder for business and culture and deputy leader of the council, said: “Those sleeping over will learn so much about the castle and take away an experience to remember for life.

“This is a fabulous opportunity for people to really cherish Colchester’s rich history and heritage in a rather special way.”

The sleepover is suitable for children aged five and over. Tickets cost £30 per person, or £25 for groups of four or more. Private spaces for also available for up to six people and can be booked for £300.

For your chance to explore after dark, call the booking line on 01206 282939.

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