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Rose's essay wins Tolhouse prize

PUBLISHED: 15:50 11 June 2010 | UPDATED: 18:02 30 June 2010

AN Ormesby youngster's description of her night-time visit to the Tolhouse Museum has won her a competition prize.

Rose McNell, 11, who attends Ormesby Village Junior School visited the Great Yarmouth museum during the Night at the Museums events last month.

AN Ormesby youngster's description of her night-time visit to the Tolhouse Museum has won her a competition prize.

Rose McNell, 11, who attends Ormesby Village Junior School visited the Great Yarmouth museum during the Night at the Museums events last month.

Youngsters were asking young culture vultures to write a 300-word essay on what the event meant to them - with the winner getting a literacy pack with materials from the museums and see their essay printed in The Mercury.

During the Night at the Museums event, visitors were able to drop in on all five heritage sites in Yarmouth -including the Tolhouse, Time and Tide museum and Nelson Museum - to see a range of nocturnal exhibitions.

Mercury editor Anne Edwards chose Rose's entry as the winner “because it was so chilling and made me feel as if I too was there. Rose's descriptive prose immediately created the images in my head. Well done Rose!”

Here is her winning entry:

“It was a warm, spring evening as I headed towards my goal, the eerie cells of the Tolhouse Gaol. In my head, I had an image of a tall, strong, brick building and this came to real life when I came face to face with the walls of the Tolhouse Museum itself.

“As I entered, the stunning voices of the choir filled my ears with delight and lightened the place up as if it was not an old prison but a church.

“Slowly, I crept down the stairs into the prison cells. The bright light seemed as if it faded slightly so it added to the atmosphere. Just peering into the cells made me shiver and think how harsh the conditions must have been way back then.

“Then I entered a cell. It was so cramped and lonely, there was nothing you could do but sleep in there. I felt sorry for the poor people who had to suffer through living life in a prison. Suddenly, everyone in the cell with me left and I started to get scared so I ran outside the cell and looked at the display of typical prison food.

“I was surprised at the written information about the food; it was different to what I was expecting it was very plain and bland. It must have been boring to eat it everyday and I didn't even like half of the stuff, I am sure I would have thrown up!

“Then we looked at the modern cell. I thought that was much more satisfactory and 'well decorated', and if I had to be locked up I'm glad I'm alive now!

“It was time to leave … but at least I could leave, unlike many poor wretches in the past.”

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