It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Colchester Castle. To complement the town centre’s ‘present-themed’ Christmas lights and decorations, Colchester Castle will be lighting the iconic sycamore tree on the Castle roof.
The sycamore tree at the Castle is incredibly special to both the Castle and the town of Colchester. Legend proclaims that it was originally planted by the then mayor’s daughter, in 1815, to celebrate the historic victory at the Battle of Waterloo.
The new bright white lights that will adorn the tree for the festive period will complete Colchester Castle’s Christmas transformation, just before it opens its doors on the 8 December for its annual free Open Evening.
The lights, along with the town centre’s decorations, will create a warm and welcoming festive atmosphere for residents and visitors, and will enhance their enjoyment of the town’s many heritage attractions and Christmas events happening across the town centre.
The lights will be officially turned-on at 4.15pm on Thursday 2 December by the High Steward of Colchester Sir Bob Russell and his two grandchildren, Jessica and Sam Dines (aged 13 and 9).
The moment will be incredibly special to the family as Sir Bob’s daughter, the children's mother, Nicola Dines, then aged 6, helped to re-plant the Sycamore tree in 1987, mirroring the legend that the mayor’s daughter originally planted the tree in 1815.
Councillor Darius Laws, Portfolio Holder for Economy, Business and Heritage, said: “Colchester Castle’s now iconic sycamore tree has a wonderful story attached to it. I am pleased we can once again highlight the importance of the sycamore to the town’s heritage and celebrate this during the festive season. I'm passionate about lighting up Colchester's heritage and improving the public realm and this is a wonderful addition to the town’s Christmas lights.”
The High Steward of Colchester Sir Bob Russell, added: “I am grateful to those responsible for lighting the tree on top of Colchester Castle that they have invited my two youngest grandchildren to do the honours this year, for it was their mother who 34 years ago replanted the tree after it was removed for two years to allow repairs to be undertaken to the Castle walls.
“As I was Mayor in 1987 and she was my daughter, it made true the folklore that the tree had been planted by the Mayor’s daughter. Colchester Castle is not only the largest Keep built by the Normans more than 900 years ago, but also the only one which has a tree growing on top of it. Lighting it for Christmas is simply wonderful."
The lighting of the tree has been supported by the Welcome Back Fund, which is awarded by central Government.