Access At The Castle

Everybody should have the opportunity to be inspired by our museums. We are committed to supporting that, which means listening to our visitors and continually finding ways to improve.

Simply scroll down for useful access information, such as when the museum is quieter, what to expect when you arrive and what facilities we have. If you cannot find the answers you are looking for, please contact our Access Champions on 01206 282931 or email museums@colchester.gov.uk and the team will be happy to help. 

Useful Information

Getting here

Colchester Castle is situated just inside Castle Park, within Colchester’s town centre. A gravel pathway surrounds the building and takes you up to the main entrance. The road leading away from the park gates is Museum Street. It might appear like it is for pedestrians only, but cars are allowed to drive down it. Click here to see a map of Colchester.

If you are travelling by car, please use CO1 1UG for sat navs. There are 11 spaces for disabled badge holders just outside the park gates in Museum Street (100-200m from the entrance), and places slightly further away on the High Street. Further details on blue badge spaces in Colchester can be found on the Colchester Borough Council website.

If you are travelling by taxi, you could be dropped off on Colchester High Street or by the park gates at the end of Museum Street. 

More information regarding accessible transport can be found on the Visit Colchester website.

When You Arrive

You will be greeted by uniformed staff at our welcome desk, who will run through ticket options and give you a map of the museum.

You may have to wait a short while to be served. If you are accompanied by someone who finds queuing difficult, please let us know and we will do our best to prioritise you.

If you would like to borrow one of our Sunflower lanyards while you’re in the museum, simply ask at the welcome desk.

Disabled visitors qualify for a concession and may be accompanied by a companion free of charge.

If you, or someone you care for has additional needs and it would be useful to come on a free, familiarisation visit first, please let us know.

Please note, we do not currently have space for visitors to leave buggies, scooters or other personal possessions whilst at the Castle.

Quieter times

The museum is typically quieter in the afternoons, particularly after 2.30pm on weekdays once school groups have left for the day.

The Castle is a large open space and can get busy at weekends and during school holidays. Noise from other visitors and various interactives may be too much for anyone who is sensitive to sound.

Our son et lumière projection is played several times throughout the day. It is a large animation that lasts approximately 10 minutes and fills the interior wall. Museum staff will make an announcement over the tannoy system before the start.

We have an interactive ballista on the gallery that, when activated, projects large targets onto the castle wall and produces sounds. We are unable to provide a warning when a visitor activates the ballista projection, but each animation only lasts about 30 seconds.

Getting around

The Castle galleries are spread across two floors, with step free access. We recommend visitors start at the replica Roundhouse on the first floor. Click here to see a floorplan of the Castle galleries – please note the Lucas Vault is currently closed.

Two lifts are available, one glass lift in the centre of the museum and a second enclosed lift behind the wall on the right side of the building. The glass lift is a platform that rises inside a shaft. A safety feature means that if users touch the sides while it is moving, the lift will pause.

The entrance to the Castle is cobbled. Once you are inside the museum, the gallery floors are carpeted and flat. 

Some of our displays are spot lit, while other areas, such as the Lucas Vault, might appear quite dark.

Daily guided tours take visitors down into the vaults and up onto the roof via the Great Staircase. The nature of the building means these spaces are inaccessible for those with mobility impairments or unable to safely walk unaided.

Wicked Spirits

From 16th July 2022 – 6th January 2023 visitors will be able to see the exhibition Wicked Spirits? Witchcraft + Magic at Colchester Castle.

Please note the exhibition explores real historical events, including themes of death and torture, which some people may find upsetting.

There will be audio descriptions accessible via QR codes within the exhibition. We will also share a Wicked Spirits sensory story and a few familiarisation images on this webpage. It is not possible for our team to produce these resources until after the exhibition has been installed, so if they would enhance your experience, we would recommend visiting after 1st August.

Look Out For: The Ballista

On the first floor we have added a replica ballista. Visitors can simply enjoy the ballista as a great object, or purchase a special card at the welcome desk that allows them to ‘fire’ it. Giant targets will then be projected against the interior wall.

Look Out For: Son et Lumière

This large scale animation is played several times throughout the day. It fills the interior wall and lasts approximately 10 minutes. Museum staff will make an announcement over the tannoy system before the start.

Look Out For: The Prisons

When you enter the prisons on the ground floor, a motion activated shadow projection with audio will start playing, which some visitors might find a little scary.

Look Out For: The Vaults

As part of a guided tour, visitors get to see the Roman vaults under Colchester Castle. There are several large spaces, connected by short, low tunnels and the floor is uneven in places.

Look Out For: The Stairs

As part of a guided tour, visitors go down a set of stone stairs into the Roman vaults and up a spiral staircase to the roof. There are rails to hold, but be aware the stairs are uneven and narrow in places.

Lunchroom

The ground floor lunchroom is available for visitors to use after 2.30pm on weekdays (once school groups have left) and at weekends. You can bring a picnic or find assorted light refreshments in our vending machine, including water.

If you’re looking to buy something more substantial, visitors are welcome to head into Colchester town centre and then return to the Castle – simply show your ticket to the welcome desk to re-enter.

If you have a refillable bottle, our team are happy to top it up with tap water.

Toilets

The Castle has two accessible toilets. One is located on the ground floor before the male and female facilities, and has a sliding door. The second is located further along the corridor on the left.

The second accessible toilet includes baby changing facilities.

Colchester Castle does not have a Changing Places facility. The nearest can be found at the Castle Park cafe (0.2miles/ 4 minute walk), Colchester Library (0.2miles/ 5 minute walk) and at Leisure World (0.6miles/ 13 minute walk). A full list of Changing Places Toilets is available on the Changing Places website.

Care

Assistance dogs are welcome.

We welcome breastfeeding.

If you or a member of your group require a quiet space during your visit, please speak to our Visitor Services team. 

If you or a member of your group require medical attention whilst at the Castle, please alert our Visitor Services team and they will contact the emergency services.

Colchester Castle has a defibrillator onsite.

Contact Us

We want all our visitors to have the best possible experience. If you’re planning to visit Colchester Castle and have any questions or concerns, or if you would like to arrange a free familiarisation visit, our team are more than happy to help. You can contact us on:

Tel: 01206 282939 

e: museums@colchester.gov.uk

Welcoming Visitors With…

Mobility Impairment

  • Two lifts are available, one glass lift and a second enclosed lift.
  • Ramps provide step free access around the museum.
  • The reception desk has a lowered section so staff can better serve you.
  • A narrow wheelchair is available for visitors to use when accessing the prisons, where the entrance is slightly smaller than a standard door width.
  • Different types of seating are available throughout the museum.

Vision Impairment

  • Our interactive tablets include some audio clips.
  • Braille is available on many exhibits and floor plans.
  • Replica objects are available throughout the museum for you to touch.
  • Sheet magnifiers are available to borrow.

Hearing Impairment

  • A hearing loop is available in the reception area and prisons. To access it, please set your hearing aid to the ‘T-coil’ setting.
  • Many of our Visitor Services team are trained in basic BSL.
  • Films within the galleries have subtitles and, in some cases, BSL.
  • In the event of a fire, our alarm includes flashing lights.

Autism

  • Twiddlemuffs are available to borrow whilst in the museum.
  • Child and adult sized ear defenders are available to borrow whilst in the museum.
  • On the first Sunday of the month we have our Calm At The Castle sessions, where noisy interactives are switched off and a dedicated sensory space is available. Dates can change, so be sure to check our Events page before planning your visit.
  • Our 11 minute Visual Story Film can show you just what to expect.
  • We also have a Sensory Map and a downloadable Sensory Story
  • If it would be helpful to see inside the Castle before visiting we offer free familiarisation visits, which can be booked by calling 01206 282939. Staff can provide you with an access pack and answer any questions you may have. We would recommend coming between 4 – 5pm as the Castle is typically quiet during that time.

Dementia

  • Twiddlemuffs are available to borrow whilst in the museum.
  • Monthly Relaxed Openings take place, during which noisy interactives are switched off. For upcoming dates and further details, visit our Events page.
  • Our 11 minute Visual Story Film can show you just what to expect.
  • If it would be helpful to see inside the Castle before visiting we offer free familiarisation visits, which can be booked by calling 01206 282939. Staff can provide you with an access pack and answer any questions you may have. We would recommend coming between 4 – 5pm as the Castle is typically quiet during that time.

Visual Story Film

This short film will highlight some of the key sensory features of your visit to Colchester Castle. We recommend visitors with particular sensory needs, such as people with ASD or dementia, watch this before they come. It is also useful for anyone who could benefit seeing what the venue is like before making a visit. 

Please note, since the film was made, the replica ballista shown above has been added to the first floor of the Castle.

For subtitles, click the link in the bottom left corner that says Watch on YouTube. Once loaded, you will need to click the icon in the bottom right corner of the video to enable Subtitles/closed captions.

Colchester Castle Sensory Map

A graphic of an open eye

A graphic of a loud speaker. Curved lines coming out of it suggest sound is coming out

A graphic of a light bulb. Straight lines coming out of it suggest the bulb is turned on

Video or sudden moving visual Unexpected noises Change in light level

What's On

Events

Discover something new in Colchester. Browse the diary to find fun, family-friendly events all year round.

Exhibitions + Displays

Our programme aims to showcase the variety of the collections from art to archaeology, costume to clocks.

 

Where will your adventure start?