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Watch as priceless items are removed from Norwich Castle ahead of £13m keep project

PUBLISHED: 08:08 04 April 2019 | UPDATED: 08:08 04 April 2019

The covers are taken off the cases as artefacts are removed from the Norwich Castle Keep in preparation for the multi-million pound refurbishment. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The covers are taken off the cases as artefacts are removed from the Norwich Castle Keep in preparation for the multi-million pound refurbishment. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

Clearing the way for construction workers is a key part of any renovation projection.

The cast of prison reformer Jeremy Bentham's head is removed from Norwich Castle Keep in preparation for its multi-million pound refurbishment. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe cast of prison reformer Jeremy Bentham's head is removed from Norwich Castle Keep in preparation for its multi-million pound refurbishment. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

However, when this involves moving priceless artefacts ahead of a £13m renovation of possibly the most significant building in Norwich, this becomes far more of a landmark occasion.

Ahead of the multi-million pound refurbishment of the historic keep, staff at Norwich Castle have begun to empty the collection before work gets under way.

Once the various pieces are removed, it will see the walls of the 900-year-old castle laid bare for the first time in decades, before wholesale changes are made.

Samantha Johns, collections development manager at the museum, said: “After we’ve removed the cases the keep will be totally naked, which has never been the case in my lifetime and probably won’t happen again for centuries.

Snap the dragon is no longer at his post, just his boots are left, as artefacts are removed from Norwich Castle Keep in preparation for its multi-million pound refurbishment. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSnap the dragon is no longer at his post, just his boots are left, as artefacts are removed from Norwich Castle Keep in preparation for its multi-million pound refurbishment. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“It will be really exciting to see it laid completely bare, exposing the architecture and intricacies of it. It will be a really unique opportunity for people to see it before the work starts.”

It is hoped the emptying will be complete shortly after Easter, ahead of works beginning in the summer.

For the most part, the items currently in the keep will be moved into storage, before either being returned to the keep on completion or displayed elsewhere.

One of the displays, a model of the castle itself, however will soon be exhibited in Castle Mall.

Empty cases in the Norwich Castle Keep as preparation have started for its multi-million pound refurbishment. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYEmpty cases in the Norwich Castle Keep as preparation have started for its multi-million pound refurbishment. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Meanwhile, one of the most recognisable exhibits, Snap the Dragon, is to go into hibernation at the service’s collection centre in Gressenhall - though it will still be able to be visited by appointment.

Another of the keep’s popular features - the well - will be unaffected by the renovation.

Ms Johns added: “The well will be staying - it’s part of the fabric of the building and is protected as such, and is a real point of interest for our visitors.”

The £13m renovation is being carried out in partnership with the British Museum and has largely been made possible by a £9.2m National Lottery funding.

Debbie Harris, senior conservator, opens one of the cases as artefacts are removed from Norwich Castle Keep in preparation for its multi-million pound refurbishment. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDebbie Harris, senior conservator, opens one of the cases as artefacts are removed from Norwich Castle Keep in preparation for its multi-million pound refurbishment. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Last year, members of Norwich City Council’s planning committee gave the scheme the green light, with work to begin at the end of July.

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