Castle Bid

July 2016

Bid compositeWelcome to July news

Nottingham Castle Transformation newsletter

This month, we feature:

Nottingham in Parliament

Object of the month – Memoirs

Scott on excavations

We Dig the Castle

Leonardo exhibition and events

News on Viewfinder project

Here’s what the project team has been up to in the past month:

HLF bid submission – The Project team has been hard at work this month pulling together the Round 2 application for Heritage Lottery Funding. This has been a massive task but hugely rewarding as the fruits of our labours (not just ours it has to be said) have transformed before our eyes into clear, comprehensive and very exciting designs, plans and reports.

Finally, the piles of paper have cleared and we are proud to be submitting an application consisting of 21 separate documents, squeezed into 4 very full folders. The HLF monitors will certainly have a lot of reading to do but here’s hoping the scope and detail of our plans for the Castle leave them thoroughly captivated.

Fingers crossed everyone!

Nottingham in Parliament

Nottingham in Parliament Day launch

Nottingham in Parliament Day will take place on Tuesday 25 October 2016 when over 60 Nottingham institutions and businesses, led by The University of Nottingham, will come together to shout about their city. The Castle Transformation project will be featuring.

Nottinghamshire has long been making its mark on affairs of state and carries a legacy that has helped to shape the Britain we know today.

Early monarchs established bases in Nottingham and during the English Civil War and the city and county both played an important role in the turbulent collapse and reformation of UK Parliament.

This year marks the 370th anniversary of the end of the Civil War – which began when Charles I raised the Royal Standard outside Nottingham Castle. In a nod to this important heritage, key business leaders, politicians and well-known faces, gathered together at the launch event to raise a flag to start the countdown to Nottingham in Parliament Day.

The event was launched at the Castle on 26 July with representatives from local business, tourism, hospitality and sporting backgrounds.

It’s early days yet but more information on the projects and local businesses featured will be added to the website as plans are confirmed.

Nottingham in Parliament Day

Lucy H memoirs

Object feature

What is it? – Our selection for this month is “Lucy Hutchinson’s Memoirs”. This significant book dates from 1664 with the first copies being published in 1806. It will be a key object in our new Rebellion Gallery.

Why is it significant? – Lucy Hutchinson was the wife of John Hutchinson, the Parliamentarian Governor of Nottingham Castle and Town during the English Civil War. Her memoirs give us a detailed description of life here during those turbulent times.

Tell me more – Lucy and John married in 1638 and lived at Owthorpe in Nottinghamshire. They spent the duration of the Civil War at Nottingham Castle with their family. Lucy treated the wounds of both Parliamentarian soldiers and Royalist prisoners. John was a signatory of the death warrant of King Charles I and died imprisoned in Sandown Castle in 1664. Lucy died in 1674. They are buried in St Margaret’s Church Owthorpe where Lucy’s monument to John can also be found.

In our opinion – “Lucy’s work was designed as a private memorial to her husband and a defence against many of the criticisms which had been levelled against him in his lifetime. Lucy provides a detailed picture of the years 1642–8 and comments on social and political issues (including the origin of the term ‘Roundhead’). Lucy’s dedication to religion, family and her husband shine through the work – for example, in describing herself as – ‘a pale shadow of him’.” Dr Richard A Gaunt, Curator of Rebellion

Lucy Hutchinson’s Memoirs will feature in the new Rebellion gallery displays currently being designed by exhibition designers Casson Mann.


Scott’s facts and findings

Welcome to Scott’s seventh column. In this edition, he is going to give an insight into some of the key discoveries from recent excavations which have taken place at the Castle.

“Since April, there has been an almost continuous presence of archaeologists at the Castle. The team from Trent & Peak Archaeology has been carrying out a series of excavations. In conjunction with previous work, these build up a clearer understanding of this important site.

The investigations are to evaluate the nature, extent and condition of archaeological remains which are to be potentially affected by the proposed works for the Castle Transformation Project. The work provides us with knowledge of where archaeological remains survive and helps us create a construction strategy to minimise the effect of the building works upon these traces of the site’s past.

Two small trenches in the Outer Bailey, close to the gatehouse, revealed extensive landscaping deposits dating to between the 17th and early 20th centuries. The landscaping was largely associated with the construction of the Ducal Palace in the 1670s and preparation of the grounds when the building because a museum in the late 19th century. A crushed sandstone deposit was interpreted as a possible rough surface of uncertain, but likely late 17th century date.

Excavation composite

A medieval ditch was found in the Service Courtyard, where it is intended that the Rebellion Gallery will be constructed.

The ditch, which acted as a defence of the Inner Bailey where the Castle’s Keep and key buildings were located, was shown to have fallen out of use during the 17th century.

Some probable medieval masonry, of uncertain function, was found within the ditch. The area was later covered with a cobbled surface (probably when the Ducal Palace was built) with two later paved surfaces.

Also associated with the Ducal Palace was a ramp or bridge which allowed carriages to be driven on to the Middle Bailey (The Green). A trench in the slope close to the circular flower beds revealed stone foundations.

And of course, there was the excavation in June that recovered the lower half of a human skeleton in the Middle Bailey (The Green). This has long been believed to be associated with the Civil War.Further details of this burial, including the radiocarbon dating results, will be revealed in next month’s article.

Castle dig composite

We Dig the Castle!

This is the project that is helping to undertake many of the excavations at the Castle. These involve the partnership of the City Council, Trent & Peak Archaeology, and Historic England.

On 16 July, the community excavation in the Outer Bailey, close to the bandstand, began with a family fun day. 

Each week day, professional archaeologists are teaching some of the archaeological skills to groups of volunteers.

The excavation will continue until 19 August and is a continuation of the community excavation which took place last summer.

Last year 18th century garden features were revealed and this year it is hoped medieval layers will be reached. 

Early discoveries include more garden features dating to the 18th century when much of the Outer Bailey was used to grow vegetables including potatoes.

Finds include fragments of pottery and even a musket ball: a remnant of the the Castle’s important links to the Civil War. 

The musket ball could even date to September 1643 when Royalist soldiers seized St Nicholas’ Church and from the church tower bombarded the Outer Bailey, firing muskets, killing a man and causing unknown damage.

For further information regarding the excavations and to check avalability (places are very limited) please telephone: 0115 8967400 or email:

To find out more about last year’s excavations and the latest updates from this year’s dig, please visit the project Facebook page or follow @wedigthecastle on Twitter


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