The Siege of Colchester


2023 is the 375th anniversary of the Siege of Colchester, which lasted from 12th June to 28th August 1648.

As part of the commemoration events that happened across the city, we produced a series of short films that document the life of one royalist soldier who found himself trapped within the town walls during the eleven-week siege.

Scroll down to discover more about the ‘Under Siege’ display at Colchester Castle and our special ‘Siege of Colchester’ online collection! 

The Siege Diaries

28th August 1648

Our royalist soldier is finally heading home. He has surrendered his weapons and has sworn an oath to parliament, never to fight against them. The fate of the royalist leaders will not be so kind however.

24th August 1648

News of a royalist defeat at the battle of Preston reaches Colchester. The soldiers stationed in the town hope for their freedom and leniency from parliamentarian commanders outside the walls. The royalist leaders might not be so lucky.

21st August 1648

One of the darkest days during the siege. Women and children are sent out seeking support from the parliamentary troops outside. Not only were they turned back, but the women were stripped and beaten.

2nd August 1648

Food supplies have got to an all time low. Those trapped inside Colchester’s town walls now need to resort to some unpleasant forms of nutrition. Our royalist soldier even has to eat the animal fat used to make candles.

22nd July 1648

In the wake of a royalist commander’s escape from the town, tensions increase. A battle took place at Boxted, not too far from Colchester, and the parliamentarians offered terms of surrender. The royalist leaders refused, meaning the siege would continue.

14th July 1648

The loss of some key buildings across Colchester hits the royalists hard. The citizens of the town are now even more frustrated and take out their anger on the royalists trapped with them.

3rd July 1648

The town is now fully surrounded with parliamentarian forts and defensive walls. Royalist troops tried to head out East to the Hythe, to gather some supplies at the port. Instead, they lost many of their men to the parliamentary line.

30th June 1648

Parliamentarians have started building defences around the town and placing canons to threaten the royalists inside. All supply routes have now been cut off and tensions continue to grow.

26th June 1648

Depleting supplies leads to increasing frustration with the royalist soldiers and townsfolk. Conversely, the parliamentarians stationed outside the walls are getting a constant supply of fresh food and drink.

19th June 1648

Tensions build between the royalists trapped inside Colchester’s town walls and the citizens. Attempts have been made to get out and search for fresh supplies, but the royalists keep getting pushed back.

12th June 1648

Our royalist soldier has just arrived in Colchester and is stationed at St John’s Abbey. How long will he and his fellow soldiers be stationed in the town?

Thank You

Thanks go to the following people and organisations for their involvement in the production of “The Siege Diaries” 

Filming locations 

Cast (from the English Civil War Society) 

Film Crew (from Colchester Institute)

Brook Red Lion Hotel 
Colchester Institute 
English Heritage  
The Old Siege House Bar & Brasserie 

Martin Lovell – Royalist Soldier 

Caitlyn Clarke  
Julien Mery
Logan Buxton Smith  
Luis Dacruzgigante 


Learn Even More About The Siege

Under Siege


'Under Siege' is a temporary display inside Colchester Castle, from 7th June to 1st December 2023.

It features a range of objects from the period, including coins that were fashioned and used during the siege when money couldn’t circulate, a spade that could have been used to dig the parliamentary defences, and several pamphlets on loan from the Essex Society for Archaeology and History. One of the highlights will be a letter written by Thomas Fairfax, leader of the parliamentary forces. 

Collections Online


Find out even more by visiting our online catalogue and browsing the new Siege of Colchester collection! It features a variety of objects, such as a royalist helmet and siege tokens. There are also various artworks relating to the siege and those involved. 

What's On


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

Exhibitions + Displays

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


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