First images released of how Norwich Castle will be returned to its medieval glory
- Credit: Archant
Generations have taken in this view of the keep at Norwich Castle Museum – but within four years visitors could be experiencing how it would have looked in medieval times.
The first images have been released to show in detail how an ambitious £13m project would transform Norwich Castle and restore the medieval keep to its former glory.
Norfolk Museums Service has been given the green light from the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding towards a £13m project. A development grant of £462,000 for the project has been awarded, with a further £8.7m earmarked subject to a second application.
And Dr John Davies, chief curator of Norfolk Museums Service, today said that meant 'full steam ahead' for the project to re-present the 900-year-old keep as it appeared in the days of King Henry I.
The project would see the keep changed so that the principal Norman floor is reinstated, with visitors entering a reconstructed palatial Great Hall through the Bigod Gate, the original entrance to the building.
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Dr Davies said that would be in keeping with the intentions of architect Edward Boardman, who oversaw the restoration of the keep in the late 19th century, but was thwarted in his attempts to reinstate where the Norman floor would have been.
And he said it would create a true medieval experience for visitors. He said: 'When visitors come into the keep, they have an initial sense of awe but then they want to engage with the building and it's simply not possible. Moving around display cases in the keep is never going to do the job.
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'It's not a Disneyland-type visit we're looking to create.
'We want to give visitors a genuine medieval experience which recreates what life in a castle would have been like.
'People will be able to explore and experience it, but it will also mean we will have a space which can be a focus for the city in terms of a cultural venue.'
A British Museum Gallery of the Medieval Period is also planned, with treasures from the castle's own collection being displayed alongside artefacts from the London museum's remarkable collection.
Improved access will open up a view of the keep not seen for years, while disabled visitors will, for the first time, be able to travel from the ground floor to the battlements – where state-of-the-art technology will enable people to compare modern day Norwich with how it would have looked in medieval times.
While the museum service will still face a gap of some £3m even after the lottery cash is drawn down, efforts to get grants and sponsorship are being pursued.
It is hoped the revitalised keep will open to the public by 2020. The museum will not shut during construction work, but the Grade I listed keep will have to be closed off during building work.
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