The project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, will transform Norwich Castle Keep back to its origins as a Norman royal palace.
It will recreate the Keep’s original 12th century lay-out and make all five levels – from basement to battlements – fully accessible for the first time in 900 years.
According to Norfolk County Council, it is one of the largest and most ambitious heritage projects currently underway in the UK.
Cllr Margaret Dewsbury, cabinet member for communities and partnerships at Norfolk County Council, said: “This is one of the most exciting times in the 900 year history of the castle. We’re so pleased to announce that the construction project has begun. After such a testing time nationally and locally over the past few months, the Norwich Castle: Royal Palace Reborn project is a cause for optimism and is a major investment in the future of the city and the county. We look forward to seeing the results of this fantastic project which will secure Norwich Castle’s future as a jewel in Norfolk’s and the UK’s heritage crown.”
Morgan Sindall Construction area director Alister Broadberry said: “We are extremely proud to have secured the Norwich Castle project. It is one of the most prestigious buildings in the East of England and our team is excited to create an environment that will inspire each and every museum visitor. Our purpose is about enriching lives and communities, so the commitments we have made on this project around social value investment are just as important as the project itself. Together with the customer team, we are determined to leave a positive legacy here both in the museum and the community around us.”
The key physical changes which the project will deliver are:
- recreation of the Norman interior spaces of the Keep through reinstating the original principal floor level.
- construction of a viewing platform at battlement level to offer views of medieval and present-day Norwich
- installation of a lift to ensure that all five levels of the Keep are accessible for all
- development of a medieval gallery, designed in partnership with the British Museum
- creation of new visitor and school entrances, including a glass atrium
- development of new visitor facilities including a café overlooking the atrium, a shop and learning spaces
- improved toilet facilites.
“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,” said 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.”
The construction works will be undertaken in two phases with the new entrance spaces completed first, followed by the work on the Keep itself.