THE author of the best-selling Roman Mysteries books plans a children’s session in Colchester in aid of the town’s ancient chariot racing arena.

Caroline Lawrence has brought the Roman period to life for thousands of youngsters through her adventure stories, which inspired a BBC children’s TV series.

She is now getting behind the campaign to save the Roman circus by hosting a fun lecture for families at Colchester Arts Centre.

The US-born Cambridge University graduate said: “A day at the races is probably the only form of entertainment in Roman times. We have nothing remotely like it today.

“You could say we have an equivalent of watching gladitorial combat, or going to the baths, but there is no way you could recreate the spectacle of a Roman chariot race.

“When I come to Colchester, I will be explaining exactly why that is.”

Teenage Colchester actress Millie Binks, who starred in the Roman Mysteries adaptation, will also appear at the arts centre to share tales of filming the show in exotic locations.

Everyone who buys a £6 ticket will get a free Roman Mysteries book with a retail value of £8, and both Miss Binks and Mrs Lawrence will be signing copies afterwards.

A full house will bring in £1,000 for the appeal.

Bill Hayton, circus campaign coordinator, said: “It’s fantastic Caroline is coming to Colchester.

“She is giving her time freely and has worked really hard on her talk.

“We’re very grateful to the arts centre as well.

“We hope parents and children will join us this half-term and help raise crucial funds for the appeal. We’re getting closer to our target every day.”

Tickets for the half-term week talk at 2pm on Friday, February 19, are available at or by calling 01206 500900.

The Colchester Roman Circus appeal is trying to raise £200,000 to help buy the land containing the starting gates of the circus and an historic building – the former Army sergeants’ mess – as a visitors’ centre and a new home for the Colchester Archaeological Trust.

So far, about £119,000 has been raised towards purchasing the site off Circular Road North.

To make a pledge, call Isobel Merry on 07891 234274 or go to