Green light for multimillion-pound Norwich Castle plan

The Heritage Lottery Fund has earmarked a total of £9.2 million for a ‘Gateway to Medieval England’ project to create a major heritage attraction at Norwich Castle.

The castle has been awarded an initial HLF development grant of £462,400, which will identify essential repairs and conservation work and set out plans for the development.

The project aims to show the historic keep as it appeared during its heyday under the Norman kings.

Visitors can experience the sights and sounds of King Henry I’s castle by exploring the recreated Great Hall, complete with a banqueting table and minstrels’ gallery, King’s chamber and chapel.

Newly-exposed Norman archaeology and architecture will tell stories of the castle’s past and a unique battlements experience will offer views of medieval and present-day Norwich.

A partnership with the British Museum will bring national medieval treasures to Norfolk, displayed alongside artefacts from Norwich Castle’s own medieval collection, in a new British Museum Gallery of the Medieval Period.

Councillor Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council, said: “Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery is a treasure for our local schools and communities as well as a major asset in terms of the city’s visitor economy.

“This project will further establish Norwich as a key cultural tourism destination and we are certain that this project will be a huge success.”

Robyn Llewellyn, head of HLF East of England, said: “Norwich Castle is one of Europe’s most spectacular medieval keeps and home to a wonderful historical collection.

“We are recognising its potential by funding a range of plans to enhance the museum’s existing displays and creating a complementary British Museum Gallery of the Medieval Period.

“We’ve earmarked £9.2m towards the project and will be working closely with Norfolk Museums Service over the coming months to help them produce a first-class visitor attraction.”

Building work is anticipated to start in 2018 and the revitalised keep – displayed and interpreted as a Norman royal palace – is expected to open to the public by 2020.

• Picture shows Norwich Castle as a royal palace, with a digital reconstruction of the Great Hall as it may have appeared in 1121.