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Norwich Castle’s Nelson exhibition attracted more than 50,000 visitors

PUBLISHED: 18:50 08 October 2017 | UPDATED: 18:50 08 October 2017

Nelson and Norfolk exhibition at Norwich Castle Museum. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Nelson and Norfolk exhibition at Norwich Castle Museum. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

archant 2017

Norwich Castle’s Nelson exhibition attracted more than 50,000 visitors during its nine-week run - making it one of the most popular exhibitions at the historic landmark in recent years.

Nelson and Norfolk exhibition at Norwich Castle Museum. Picture : ANTONY KELLY Nelson and Norfolk exhibition at Norwich Castle Museum. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Nelson and Norfolk - a unique tribute to the great naval hero considered to be the county’s most famous son - drew the crowds from the moment it opened on July 29 right up to its final day on October 1.

In August alone the castle welcomed 31,268 visitors, the venue’s best August in terms of visitor numbers since it reopened in 2001 after an £11.8 million revamp.

Ruth Battersby Tooke, senior curator of costume and textiles at Norwich Castle and who curated the exhibition, said the castle team were delighted with the response and that, in terms of average visitor numbers each day, the Nelson show was just behind the castle’s 2015 Homage to Manet exhibition which sold 63,835 tickets during an 11-week run.

Nelson and Norfolk featured more than 160 objects connected to Admiral Lord Nelson, from his childhood to his death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The impressive centrepiece was a huge French Tricolor ensign captured from the French ship Le Généreux by Admiral Lord Nelson’s men in 1800. The flag - which measures 16 metres by 8.3 metres - had been out of public view for more than a century, and painstaking conservation work enabled it to be put on display again.

Nelson and Norfolk exhibition at Norwich Castle Museum. Ruth Battersby-Tooke, senior curator of costume and textiles at Norwich Castle with a bust of Nelson. Picture : ANTONY KELLY Nelson and Norfolk exhibition at Norwich Castle Museum. Ruth Battersby-Tooke, senior curator of costume and textiles at Norwich Castle with a bust of Nelson. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

“I think the opportunity to see something that hasn’t been seen in public for 100 years was a great draw,” said Ms Battersby Tooke.

“It was also a once in a lifetime opportunity to see this whole collection together, it was a unique gathering of objects.”

She said the focus now was on ensuring the huge Tricolor did not disappear into the archives for another 100 years. During the exhibition public donations raised more than £1,300 and this will help fund a specially-designed storage container which will both protect the flag and make it more accessible in the future.

“The way the flag will be folded will be so you can see a section of the blue, white and red, and the box that we are looking at, we are aiming to have at least a perspex top and front so you can have a real sense of the flag. We are also going to build a trolley for it so it can be moved around.

Norwich Castle Museum. The Nelson Exhibition. Picture : ANTONY KELLY Norwich Castle Museum. The Nelson Exhibition. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

“It will live in the store at the Norwich Castle Study Centre where we have the costume and textile collection of over 32,000 items. It won’t be hidden away, it will be accessible.”

The hope is the flag will be put in its special case by Christmas and, further into the future, people will be able to make appointments to see the flag.

Anybody wanting to support the storage process of the flag or to find out about viewing it in the future, should email ruth.battersbytooke@norfolk.gov.uk or museums@norfolk.gov.uk

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