The National Lottery Heritage Fund supported scheme has reached a significant milestone, with project contractor Morgan Sindall Construction set to commence the substantive work required to recreate the Keep’s original 12th century layout.
Ensuring the trip back through nine centuries can be enjoyed by the maximum number of visitors is integral to the project’s aims. The £13.5 million plans are set to make all five levels – from basement to battlements – fully accessible for the first time in the structure’s history.
It is also hoped that Norman archaeology and architecture exposed by the build will support the venue’s storytelling.
What to expect
The key changes which the project will deliver are:
- The recreation of the Norman interior spaces of the Keep through reinstating the original principal floor level
- The construction of a unique viewing platform at battlement level, offering views of medieval and present-day Norwich
- The installation of a new lift to ensure that all five levels of the Keep are fully accessible for the first time in its history
- The development of a new medieval gallery, designed in partnership with the British Museum, that will showcase national medieval treasures alongside objects from Norfolk’s own collections
- The creation of dedicated learning spaces, including a multi-sensory area for early years audiences
- The creation of new visitor and school entrances, including a glass atrium providing clear views of the Keep’s East façade and Bigod Tower from inside the Museum
- The development of a new café overlooking the atrium, an internal glass bridge into the Keep, and a new shop
- Upgraded toilets which will include a Changing Places facility
The project is not just about structural alterations, however. Later phases of the scheme will see innovative uses of projections and digital technologies to animate the building with the sights and sounds of King Henry I’s East Anglian fortress.
“The planned changes to the Keep will provide a completely new way for people to explore its history as a castle and still enjoy the collections we’ve come to know and love,” notes Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council. “This project will also make Norwich Castle more accessible and inclusive to local communities as well as attracting new visitors to the city.”
While work is under way, the rest of Norwich Castle – the museum and galleries – will reopen to the public in September, equipped with a new temporary entrance and the now customary Covid-19 safety protocols.