Nottingham Castle re-opens after three-year £33 million regeneration

Video: See inside the castle following its £33 million transformation

Nottingham Castle has opened its gates to the public again after a three-year £33 million regeneration designed to turn it into one of the country’s best historic attractions.

The first paying visitors arrived at 10am on Monday (June 21) to see the grounds and galleries transformed by a major overhaul designed to present the site’s best artefacts in a more modern and engaging way.

More has also been made of the area’s links to the legend of Robin Hood, with a state-of-the-art interactive gallery telling the story of the outlaw.

Inside the main ducal palace building, every major gallery space has been redesigned and refitted, and there are new exhibits, including a temporary display on the life and work of fashion designer Paul Smith.

The attraction’s redevelopment was run by a Nottingham City Council team but the finished site is being run by the independent Nottingham Castle Trust.

Trust Chief Executive Sara Blair-Manning said: “There’s now just loads to do at site for everybody, for all members of the family, friends, groups, you can come and spend the whole day at Nottingham Castle.”

She added: “There are just some really beautiful spaces now, as well as many which are interactive, it’s not just reading through loads of text and books – it’s state-of-the-art.”

The first visitors formed a long queue outside the castle gates before 10am on Monday.

As a fortress the site dates back to 1068 and has played host to some of the most important moments in English history, including the start of the English Civil War in 1642 when King Charles I raised his standard outside the gates as a call-to-arms against Parliament.

Major public rebellions have also been focussed on the site, and several kings have made the castle home or used it as a key military base, including Richard III, who rallied forces there before being defeated at the Battle of Bosworth in Leicestershire in 1485.

Many of the medieval fortifications were demolished in 1651 before William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle, later built a mansion on the site in the 1670s. This was then burnt down by rioters in 1831 before being rebuilt again in the 1870s.

There is also a new visitors’ centre, large children’s play area, cafe, and a Museum of the Mercian Regiment, charting 300 years of military history.

The main art gallery has also been redesigned and a new Lace Gallery covers the city’s textile-making heritage.

Restrictions related to Covid-19 are still in place, including social distancing, meaning the attraction’s ticketing capacity is currently limited.

Nottingham City Council Leader Cllr David Mellen said the castle is “absolutely central to and symbolic of our vision for Nottingham’s future – a city where there are jobs and opportunities for local people as well as somewhere that an increasing number of people will want to come and visit, boosting our standing and our economy.”

The new attraction also aims t make more of the legend of Robin Hood.

General admission ticket prices are now £13 for one adult, £9.50 for one child, and £35.50 for a family of two adults and up to three children.

There are also additional costs for access to the Robin Hood Adventures, and Castle Caves Underground Adventure attractions.

The general admission ticket includes access to the Castle’s first temporary exhibition ‘Hello, my name is Paul Smith’ which has more than 1,500 objects. The exhibition celebrates the Beeston-born designer’s career, from his first shop in Nottingham, to worldwide prominence.

The trust has confirmed it will be offering an annual ticket later in the year, when pandemic restrictions are eased. It has also offered a ten per cent discount for anyone living in the postcodes NG1 to NG9 and NG11.

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