Digs at Jacks & the Mercury Theatre

Adam Wightman Reporting on the Digs & Jacks & the Mercury

Following the success of their last meeting, Adam Wightman (Senior Project Manager of The Colchester Archaeological Trust), is going to update the Local History Group on these digs this Wednesday. Both digs were possible because of refurbishment works.

In the case of Jacks, just off the High Street, builders dug six shafts to create foundations to stabilise this 17th century building. This gave the Trust 6 windows on the past; find out what they found in Shaft C at Jacks.

Meanwhile, at the Mercury, the opportunity to dig arose as the theatre demolished an old 1930’s building to build a new store & rehearsal space. Another ideal opportunity for the Trust to excavate.

Where, when & how

This event takes place this Wednesday, 13th October at the Orpen Hall with the talk starting at 7:30 pm.

All are welcome to attend with entry being £2 for members and £5 for visitors (membership £10 per year). Please email the group at [email protected] if you want to attend; the group will then be able to keep you informed if there are any last minute changes to the meeting.

COVID-19 Arrangements

Dress suitably given that the main doors to Orpen Hall will be kept open during the event.

Please wear a mask as you move around the hall, sanitise your hands on arrival and to  maintain distanced seating with people outside your household.

“The Dig” – Talk by Charlie Haylock

Charlie Haylock & Ralph Fiennes

Charlie Haylock shared his stories about his work on “The Dig” film on 8th September, the groups first meeting in 18 months!

Charlie, a well-known local authority on the Suffolk dialect gave a very entertaining and informative talk. Nearly 50 members and guests learnt a lot about words and their pronunciation by those born and bred in Suffolk.  Charlie was the dialect coach for some of the actors who played Suffolk roles in the Netflix film of “The Dig” that started in 1939 at Sutton Hoo  near Woodbridge; he talked about how he helped to develop the script and, in particular, how he worked with Ralph Fiennes, who played the amateur archaeologist Basil Brown in the film. 


It was clear that Ralph was determined to play the part as realistically as he was able. During the period of filming Ralph maintained a Suffolk accent on and off the set; this was due to his obsession with ensuring that his dialogue was performed with a true Suffolk accent.

Charlie illustrated his talk with some personal stories and he and Ralph have become very good friends.  Privately, Ralph even delivered some classic speeches from one or two Shakespeare plays in a Suffolk accent and, as Charlie illustrated to us, they sounded different and conveyed a different emphasis to the way they are classically delivered. 

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