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Gallery/Video: Princess Royal arrives to see the newly-renovated Colchester Castle

17:00 20 March 2014

Princess Anne arrives at Colchester Castle during a visit to the town on Thursday, March 20.

Princess Anne arrives at Colchester Castle during a visit to the town on Thursday, March 20.

More than a hundred people gathered at Colchester Castle today when Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visited for a tour of the newly renovated site.

Princess Anne arrives at Colchester Castle during a visit to the town on Thursday, March 20. Princess Anne arrives at Colchester Castle during a visit to the town on Thursday, March 20.

Princess Anne spent time viewing the extensive renovations completed recently as part of a £4.2 million improvement project.

The money came from the Heritage Lottery Fund with the castle set to reopen on May 2.

See our gallery here.

The Princess also had a private viewing of the castle and met with staff and volunteers responsible for the work.

She was greeted by dignitaries from across the county and a warm reception from around 150 people who flocked to the Norman castle.

The Princess also had a private viewing of the castle and met with staff and volunteers responsible for the work.

She was greeted by dignitaries from across the county and a warm reception from around 150 people who flocked to the Norman castle.

The Princes Royal’s appointment at one of Europe’s largest Norman keep was one of two visits she made during her trip to the town.

Her Royal Highness also visited local builders’ merchant Kent Blaxill who this year celebrated 175 years in business.

On her arrival at the castle The Princess Royal was welcomed a string of dignitaries, including Lord Petre, Lord Lieutenant of Essex, and Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell.

The Princess Royal was then given a personal tour of castle by Tom Hodgson, development manager for the castle.

The Princess Royal was given an overview of the redevelopment project, viewed artefacts and was shown the technology that will complement the collections and improve overall visitor experience.

Her Royal Highness was also introduced to museum employees who have been involved with the conservation and restoration of the artefacts and the team who are now putting together the new exhibits.

Her Royal Highness ended the tour by being introduced to Colchester Borough Council officers.

Princess Anne was following in her family’s footsteps with this visit – her great- grandmother Queen Mary visited the castle in 1938.

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell said Princess Anne had bestowed a royal seal of approval to the castle, which dates back to AD 54.

“She was absolutely fascinated by seeing a Norman castle built in top of the Roman temple,” Sir Bob said.

“It is still a work in progress but you can see it is going to be an incredible tourist attraction with a new dimension.

“Colchester was the first capital of Roman Britain and its Roman heritage is without equal. We don’t need a royal to put Colchester on the map but she did give the castle the royal seal of approval.”

Tim Young, portfolio holder for community and culture at the town’s borough council, said: “We are very proud of our town’s historical heritage and today’s royal visit highlights what an important national attraction Colchester Castle is.

“When the redevelopment is complete our new-look museum will be transformed into a truly 21st century attraction that will attract visitors from far and wide.

“The castle reopening will also give a much needed boost to the town’s wider economy through the increased footfall we expect.”

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