Nottingham Castle is a staple of Nottingham’s cityscape and somewhere I’ve visited a lot, but not specifically written about. The name Castle is perhaps a bit of a misnomer, and tourists can be taken aback that it doesn’t fit the stereotypical appearance of a castle. In fact the current incarnation is the 17th century ducal mansion that was built on the site of the Medieval Castle.
The Castle has a long history of being built, demolished and rebuilt. The first Castle, made from wood, was built in 1067 by William the Conqueror. It was rebuilt in stone in 1170 by Henry II. The Civil War began at the Castle in 1642 when Charles I raised his standard outside the castle walls and in 1651 it was almost completely demolished so as not to be used as a military stronghold again.
In 1663 the 1st Duke of Newcastle bought the site and his son completed work on the ducal palace in 1678. In 1831, because of the 4th Duke of Newcastle’s opposition to the Parliamentary Reform Act, rioters set fire to the mansion and the statue of the 1st Duke you can see below was smashed.
The ruined building remained as a shell until a local architect was asked to adapt the castle into a museum and art gallery in 1875. It was finally opened in 1878 by the future Edward VII as the first municipal museum and art gallery outside of London.
The Castle houses permanent collections of art and historical displays, a small costume collection, which includes the outfit Nottingham skaters Torvill and Dean wore when they won their Olympic gold,
and the Sherwood Foresters Regimental Museum.
There are also labyrinthine man-made caves under the castle, though I haven’t been on a tour of them since I was very young. There will be extensive work started on the castle shortly which will include extending the caves, so I will definitely make that a part of my next visit.
The grounds also contain a rather lovely bandstand,
and war memorials,
but also allows for some of the best views of the city you can find.
You can find more photos of the castle and surroundings here.