July news: Closing the Castle...what comes next

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July 2018

Castle Closed

Welcome to the July Castle Transformation Newsletter

This month, we feature:
- Project update
Jade's Column - Last week of opening
Hoodwinked - Meet our robin and find out more about the trail
- Scott's Column - Service Courtyard archaeology
- Object of the Month - Coronation lace panel
Football - World Cup at the Castle

July newsletter

Project update – July 2018

As we see in August, welcome to our July project news...

Closing the site - This month saw the gates of the Castle closing to the public for the last time prior to re-opening after transformation works. This was an emotional event and marks a huge milestone in the project, as capital works will now begin in earnest. Thank you to all of those who came to visit over the closing week, it was great to see so many of you! Read on for Jade’s column where she fills us in on the week’s activities.

Launch of website - With the closure of the site came the launch of our brand new project website. A huge thanks to Framework Design Agency for creating a stunning website, and also to those newsletter readers who gave up their time to test and provide feedback on the draft version. Please head to https://www.nottinghamcastle.org.uk/ to check it out!

The decant - packing the galleries away safely - On the closure of the site, the highly skilled team of curators and conservation staff from Nottingham City Museums and Galleries sprang into action to commence the packing of all the objects on display within the Castle. This is a complex process which has involved the preparation of tens of thousands of acid-free tissue wads which have been created over the past few months. These pad the storage crates and protect the precious decorative art objects while in transit to their storage location. Also to be considered is the safe removal of the paintings from the gallery walls and the co-ordination of their removal from site prior to building works – which will be undertaken by a specialist fine art handler. This is an enormous job and the care and efficiency with which the team are working has been amazing.

Archaeology developments - Anyone who visited the Castle in the weeks before closure can’t have failed to notice the extensive archaeology works being undertaken. This is really exciting for the project team as not only is this a crucial part of the enabling works but it also enables us to gather more information with which to interpret the Castle’s wonderful and tumultuous history! Also on site at the moment is the We Dig the Castle team, who provide training placements for aspiring archaeologists as well as some of our own volunteers. See Scott’s column below for more information.

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Jade's Column - The last week before closedown

Jade describes how the last week of opening went for the team...

"The week of Monday 25 June to Sunday 1 July marked the free entry week at Nottingham Castle before closing for two years for redevelopment. 

We started off with the beginning of our LEGO big build with the amazing team at Warren Elsmore and a fun packed visit from the lovely pupils and teachers at Dunkirk Primary School who very much enjoyed our yummy HLF logo cupcakes made by Strawberry Cupcakes which fuelled them to really kick start the build!

As the week progressed, so did our Lego as it gradually transformed into the Nottingham Castle people would have seen in medieval times. Throughout the week there were also curator talks, artist impressions of what the galleries will look like once the transformation is complete and a suggestion box for what we should put in a time capsule to mark the redevelopment, we had some fab suggestions and drawings which we can’t wait to use for the creation of our time capsule in the near future.

Finally, the fun packed and extremely hot closing weekend had arrived! Many families came to the Castle to enjoy an ice cream, a photo with Robin Hood, get some face painting, experience birds of prey, practice their archery skills and much more. A total of just under 14,000 people came through those gates at the weekend and we want to thank you all for coming to celebrate the end of an era with us, we hope to see you all again when the Castle re opens in 2020."

For more information about the castle project visit our brand new website  and check out the time lapse of the Lego castle to see how it looked in the end.

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Closure week images


Hoodwinked 2018

The project is proud to be one of the sponsors of this year's Hoodwinked project which is a a series of 33 beautiful robin sculptures, set in a trail across the city.

Thousands of people have visited the trail since the robins flew the nest (after the official launch at the Castle) on 7 July and they will be seen around the city until 30 September. 

Look out for activities and events around the robins and their sponsors and for the app which you can download that gives you prizes and rewards as you unlock each robin. There is also a lovely souvenir guide too, with great photographs.

Meet the Sheriff of Nottingham

Our 'condescending crow' is based on the traditional characteristics of the Sheriff of Nottingham in legend - a greedy unjust tyrant who mistreats the people of Nottingham, subjecting them to unaffordable taxes. He will be guarding the Castle gates.

'Sheriff Robin' was created by artist Jodie Silverman and based on the show-stealing Alan Rickman character in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (image inset - credit Adam Tinworth, Flickr) - note the detail on his elaborate black costume, and the half closed eyes. It's a pretty good likeness!

Robin and Sheriff

Find other Castle links on the Hoodwinked Trail

Aside from Robin Hood and the Sheriff, there are lots of references to the Castle and to old Nottingham in the trail. Why not look for those as you are going around the sculptures?

Where's Robin? (Old Market Square/Beast Market Hill) - Contains well known buildings as well as Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, Maid Marian and the gang.

Tigguo Cobauc (Theatre Square) - Tigguo Cobauc is the ancient name for Nottingham and translated as 'place of caves'. The design includes caves and the Major Oak as well as sandstone rocks and textures.

Nottingham Cityscape (Trinity Square) - Spot the Castle amongst the city landmarks

Royal Robin Redbreast (Nottingham Station) - A design inspired by the history of royal connections to Nottingham Castle from William the Conqueror, to Henry II, and Richard the Lionheart and Richard III.

Images below: Details from Tigguo Cobauc and Where's Robin? then bottom row L-R - Tigguo Cobuac, Royal Robin Redbreast and Nottingham Cityscape

Read more about the trail

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Castle related robins

Medieval wall

Scott's Column

This month, City Archaeologist Scott Lomax talks about the excavations underway

"July has been a busy month for archaeology in the city, with several excavations taking place, and other imminent excavations, which will enhance our knowledge of the city's medieval and post-medieval past.

Two of these excavations have been taking place at the Castle and one down at Brewhouse Yard.

At the Castle, remains of a likely medieval wall (image left) have been found in the Middle Bailey, at a depth of just over a metre below ground level. It is my belief that the wall is part of the Great Chapel, which was demolished in 1651. Built during the medieval period, and with an associated Tudor burial, it was later used as a prison for Royalist soldiers during the Civil War.

In the Service Courtyard excavation continues, with expected completion towards the end of September. The edge of the defensive ditch, first created in 1068 but substantially modified in the centuries which followed prior to being filled in during the 17th century, is being revealed. Stonework interpreted as remains of a ramp shown on the Smythson Plan of 1617 has also been exposed. It is possible some of the stonework may have formed part of a set of later steps known to have still been standing after the Castle was set on fire in 1831.

The We Dig the Castle excavation is this year focusing on Brewhouse Yard where Nottingham City Museums Field Archaeology Section carried out fieldwork in 1975. The current excavation is in its very early days but I will give an update on what is found, next month. The results of the 1975 excavation, which I have recently written up, highlight the potential for important medieval and post-medieval remains, deeply buried beneath 19th and 20th century landscaping deposits."

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Coronation lace

Object of the Month

What is it?
Our selected object for July is a Coronation Lace Panel attributed to Nottingham lace maker F W Barnes.

Why is it significant?
This cream lace panel, made on a curtain machine, was created to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on 2nd June 1953 and is an example of Nottingham lace being used to document significant events in national history.

Tell me more
The design at the top of the central piece of the panel incorporates the year of the Coronation, two Union Flags and ER to denote Queen Elizabeth II. Below this is a view of the west front of Westminster Abbey, where the Coronation took place, and images of Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II. Six panels to the sides of the main panel contain silhouettes of some of the countries of the Commonwealth - Canada, New Zealand, Malta, Australia, Africa and Jamaica accompanied by iconic images associated with each of them. These include a maple leaf for Canada and a kangaroo for Australia.

In our opinion
"This Coronation panel demonstrates the creativeness of an unknown designer and the skill of the twisthands, who worked the versatile Nottingham curtain lace machines, to produce such elaborate patterns. Anything can be depicted in Nottingham lace from flowers and abstract patterns to buildings and words." Judith Edgar, Curator of Lace, Costume and Textiles

The Coronation Lace Panel will feature in the new Lace Gallery currently being designed by exhibition designers Casson Mann. 

50 facts about the Queen's Coronation
Nottingham Heritage article on lace

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Football image

When football came home (to the Castle)

Less Richard the Lionheart, rather three lions across their hearts; 6000 football fans and much of the world's press visited the Castle site this month when the city council hosted two live screenings of the FIFA World Cup England games.

The games between England and Sweden, and then the breathtakingly close semi final game between England and Croatia were very popular with fans queuing for hours on Castle Road to ensure their spot by the giant screen. Tickets for the latter game were snapped up in 5 minutes. 

The international coverage, with television crews from France as well as SKY and ESPN; with images shared as far as Australia, ensured the Castle is promoted to lots of brand new audiences and potential visitors in 2020.

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