Rescue has now been told that the initial campaign to raise £200,000 has been successful – many congratulations to the campaigners – see http://www.romancircus.org/2010/03/01/thank-you-appeal-reaches-its-200000-target/
Destination Colchester and Colchester Archaeology Trust are together trying to raise funds to buy the Sergeants’ Mess building and garden of Abbey Fields from developers Taylor Wimpey to save a unique site from redevelopment and help preserve Colchester’s town’s unique heritage.
Deadline now February 2010
The Appeal has had the deadline to raise enough money to buy the land containing the 8 starting gates of Britain’s only known Roman chariot racing circus extended, from the end of January 2010 by one month. The gates lie within the front garden of the former garrison sergeants’ mess at the northern end of Abbey Field. This distinguished Victorian Grade 2 listed building is otherwise destined to become private housing, closing off public access to an important section of this unique archaeological site.
The appeal organisers believe that Roman Colchester including the Roman circus, the Roman walls, the Temple of Claudius, the Roman theatre and other sites should become a national visitor attraction, giving the town a strong identity, bringing business into the centre and helping to revitalise Britain’s oldest recorded town.
The aim is to preserve the site as a celebration of the town’s unique Roman heritage. The Sergeants’ Mess building will provide a new and highly appropriate home for the Colchester Archaeological Trust as well as somewhere for people who live, work and visit Colchester to enjoy and learn about our historic past.
Working with local councils and county councils, the majority of the circus site will be transformed into an archaeological park. Where possible, earth mounds will be built to show its great size and provide a view not seen in Britain for at least 1600 years.
Initially, £200,000 is needed to help buy the land. Since the appeal was launched at the beginning of December it has raised just over £100,000, half-way to the total. It has taken just six weeks to do so, which shows how generous many people have been.
A fundraising event organised for 14th January in the Mayor’s Parlour of Colchester Town Hall to inform, educate, entertain and encourage donations to save Colchester’s Roman Circus, hosted by actor Tony Gardner star of BBC TV’s award winning comedy Lead Balloon raised £10,000 on the night, not including Gift Aid, with of other donations promised to be sent by post or online.
Speakers included Philip Crummy. Director of the Colchester Archaeological Trust who discovered the Roman circus who explained why the Circus mattered and what the Trust had got planned for it, should the appeal succeed, while Sven Wombwell, Garden designer, f ITV’s This Morning revealed his ideas for the design for the garden where the 8 Roman Circus starting gates are located and Philip Wise, Heritage Manager at Colchester Museums spoke about their vision for the Roman Circus.
The appeal has struck a chord both with local residents and supporters from elsewhere with over 1,200 people from all over the country donating hard earned money.
For more details of the appeal and to check on progress see http://www.romancircus.org/ which has donation facilities , or send donations to Colchester Archaeological Trust, 12 Lexden Rd, Colchester, CO3 3NF, with your address on the back, or contact Bill Hayton appeals coordinator on 07973 635692.