A theme that occupied the creative minds of many in recent weeks around Sunny Colch has been how best to brand [urgh] the town? The good folk of Destination Colchester came up with the collective idea of many different brands [urgh, urgh] to reflect the diversity that can be found in our hyperlocal patch:
“Constable Country – already quite well established around the Dedham Vale. Something based around the Estuary and a specific message for the town centre.”
Our friends over at Colchester Borough Council are keen to celebrate / exploit the delights of the line from North Station out to Stratford, tying in Britain’s Oldest Recorded with 2012. Party Paramedics put across a rather toxic brand for the town. Marc De’ath meanwhile suggests a very valid case for forgetting about the brand, and simply building from the bottom up of the many fine grass roots projects that are growing around the town. As the founder of the Creative Co-op, it is refreshing to read from someone who works in an industry associated with image that:
“A town is a home, not a commodity.”
Perhaps what is needed is this very approach of looking what is around you, and then seeing how these assets can be used to help generate interest in attracting other folk into our town. Which seems pretty much what the Red Lion Hotel along the High Street is trying with the Ghost Hunt evening that is being arranged for April.
A mere tipsy waddle away from the site where the famous Colchester umpa lump took a slight turn for the worst, the Red Lion is right in the commercial centre of Sunny Colch. Its history can’t quite pre-date the Roman heritage, but it is positioned in the historical timeline to have a head start on the Party Paramedics twaddle.
Taking place on the evening on the evening of 14th April, the Ghost Hunt will explore the many historic figures that have passed through the Grade I listed building. Dating back to 1465, there’s plenty of scope for spooks to come back and pass on their branding theory of Sunny Colch throughout the ages.
This is the scene where Oliver Cromwell held Parliamentary meetings in the banqueting hall, now conveniently converted into a banqueting restaurant. Three ghosts are rumoured to live within the walls of the High Street hotel:
“The most active spirit at the Inn is that of Alice Katherine Millar, murdered in 1638, she now haunts the building. Her ghostly apparition was reportedly so frightening that, 200 years ago, the owner of the Red Lion Hotel bricked up the doorway to her old room. He hoped that this would stop her ghost from appearing in the hotel.
In the early hours of the morning, the shadowy figure of a hooded monk has been seen wandering the hallways and the reception area. The monk is said to have died in a fire at the Inn, whilst trying to save the children that were in his care.
The third ghost at the Hotel is that of a small boy, his apparition has been seen in the parliament room. The apparition is often usually reported by children, it is said that he makes his presence felt by appearing in photos taken by the guests.”
Local myth suggests that many, many years ago, any staff caught talking about the ghostly activity faced instant dismissal. Thankfully the present owners are much more progressive…
So much so that the myths and legends are now being celebrated. This is the exact kind of branding [urgh, urgh, urgh] that Britain’s Oldest Recorded needs. Nothing has been manufactured; the whole ethos of the town isn’t going to change overnight with an image overhaul. Instead, a micro specific part of the town is making the most of what it has to offer. It may attract amateur spook sleuths, who may just then spend the morning after taking in firstsite, the Castle, um, the umpa lumpa rat run.
The organisers promise:
“Participate in Séances, Vigils, EVP Experiments, Automatic writing, Ouija Boards and much more and get to use our equipment. You may also bring your own cameras. This is a serious overnight ghost hunt (paranormal investigation), and is conducted with our team of professional Mediums and paranormal investigators. Tickets £40 per person. Over 18s only. Start time: 9pm until 3am. Event includes a hot buffet.”
Who’s on for a Timothy Claypole costume to compete with the umpa lumpa along the High Street?