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Free weekend at the castle, caves explored, Brewhouse Yard

Rebellion and further exploring

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Castle Bid

Western passage exploring

Welcome to the latest Nottingham Castle Transformation newsletter

Heres what the project team has been up to during the month of November: 

Exploring the caves - Donning hard hats and torches, we've been investigating the cave network within the Castle Rock. Our team descended some of the tunnels, with a view to agreeing on routes and interpretation methods for future cave tours.

Visitor centre - At this months design team meeting, revised proposals for the on-site visitor centre were presented by architects Purcell. Various options for look, scope and layout were put forward.  A review of these will now take place with input from our business planners, with regards to site operations and visitor flow.

Exhibition designs - The development of exhibit interpretation is ongoing and some fantastic concept designs are beginning to emerge from exhibition designers Casson Mann. This is a really exciting element of the project as we begin to visualise how our stunning collections and powerful stories will be used to engage our visitors.

Belfast visit - Members of the project team and Nottingham Castle Trust visited the Titanic Belfast attraction this month and met with their CEO and Learning and Outreach Manager. Titanic Belfast is a hugely successful heritage destination, attracting over 800,000 visitors in its first year (2012). The team was excited to hear first hand about the operation and management of such a site, as well as discover how their learning programme was developed.

Activities - Activity planning has now started in earnest with brainstorming sessions taking place with project and museum service colleagues this past month. Public consultation will also be taken up a notch in the coming weeks as dates have been set for several public events across the city - more details to follow. We will be at the free weekend at the castle on 12 and 13 December (details below).


castle xmas

Free entry to the castle 12-13 December

Enjoy free entry to Nottingham Castle as we celebrate Christmas! Visit the Christmas gift fair and meet Santa in the Bastion
(3 per child).

Come and visit the activity planning team to hear about our project plans and to give us your feedback.

Saturday 12 December: 10am - 3.30pm
Sunday 13 December: 10am - 3.30pm

More info on this event


World to Win

A World to Win exhibition

Until 17 January 2016
A V&A touring exhibition

As we work on plans to showcase Nottinghams history of rebellion, it is fitting that this touring exhibition on the theme of rebellion is currently on show at the Castle.

For many social and political movements, poster production continues to be an important form of cultural output.

Some visualise the destruction of the old order, others present a utopian vision of the future. There are posters that scream resistance while others are images of empowerment.

A series of talks and lectures accompany this exhibition. For more information please visit the exhibition website


Object of the month - Hearson's last letter

George Curly Hearson (1810-32) was executed on the steps of the Shire Hall in Nottingham on 1 February 1832 for his part in the Nottingham Reform Bill Riots of October 1831. This letter, from Hearson to his wife and mother, offers the equivalent of his last will and testament. 

Hearson, who was a bobbin and carriage maker, had acquired local celebrity as a boxer. He was tried and convicted for his part in the attack on Colwick Hall and Lowes Silk Mill in Beeston. It was suggested, but never proved, that Hearson was also a ringleader during the burning of Nottingham Castle. 

Hearsons sense of injustice is evoked in his final statement that he died a murdered man. After his execution, his brother Thomas, a respected lace agent, provided a Wesleyan funeral and a procession watched by thousands of spectators. 

The publication of Hearsons final letter in the local press turned it from a piece of private testimony into a powerful emotional comment on recent events.

Thank you to Richard Gaunt, Associate Professor in Modern History at the University of Nottingham for information on this month's object.

Richard is in a three-year residency with Nottingham Castle Museums and Galleries as Curator of Rebellion and Social Justice, working part-time with the castles established curators to help develop the new Rebellion Gallery, which is at the heart of the castle transformation. The post has been funded by Arts Council England.

Hearson's last letter
Hearson's last letter

Meet people who lived at Brewhouse Yard

By Maria Erskine - Curator of Community History and World Cultures (Brewhouse Yard)

"One of the primary interpretive techniques we plan to use at Brewhouse Yard will involve explaining the site through the real life experiences of former residents. There are three key characters who will be used, each from a different time period, who will share details of their domestic and working lives with visitors. The first is William Elliott:"

William Elliott (1707-1792) - Eighteenth Century resident

William Elliott is first recorded as living at Brewhouse Yard in 1732. Initially he is referred to as a stocking trimmer, meaning he employed others to embellish hosiery. At the same time he hired several others to work stocking frames from his premises at Brewhouse. 

He then moved into cloth dyeing, harnessing the water supply of the nearby River Leen and the well in his yard. Eighteenth century men preferred to wear black silk stockings as they were more flattering, but it was difficult with vegetable dyes to achieve a pure black. After much experiment, Elliott achieved a superior black and won practically all the dyeing business of both Nottingham and Leicester. He kept his discovery a secret, but did pass the formula on to two nephews, who became his apprentices.

His entrepreneurial spirit made him one of the richest men in Nottingham.  He moved to a large house on Beastmarket Hill in 1765, but he and his family continued to play an important role on the site.  He grew his business over the following years, expanding into silk, and becoming a major investor in local property.  He died in 1792, leaving a large estate to his family and bequeathing money to good causes.

Associated images William Elliott, English School, c.1770, accession number NCMG 2002-13.  Also black silk stockings, 1785-1800, accession number NCM 1985-770/15.

William Elliott
William Elliott and his black stockings


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