Norwich Castle Museum

Mark Snelling

Norwich, United Kingdom

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Norwich Castle Museum, Norfolk , UK

52° 37′ 43″ N, 1° 17′ 46″ E

Norwich Castle, in Norwich, England, was built in 1067 when William the Conqueror (1066 – 1087) ordered its construction because he wished to have a fortified place in the important city of Norwich. In the event, it proved to be his only castle in East Anglia. Ninety-eight Saxon homes were demolished to make way for the castle. The original structure was a timber motte and bailey structure standing on a natural rise in the land augmented by an artificial mound.

In about the year 1100 the motte was made higher and the surrounding ditch deepened. About 1120, the square keep, which is still standing, was built on top of the motte to serve as a royal palace. It is built in Caen stone over a flint core. The keep is some 95 ft (29 m) by 90 ft (27 m) and 70 ft (21 m) high, and is of the hall-keep type, entered at first floor level through an external structure called the Bigod Tower. Unusually for a utilitarian building of this period, the exterior is decorated with blank arcading. Castle Rising is the only other comparable keep in this respect.

Although the keep remains, its outer shell has been repaired repeatedly, most recently in 1835-8 by Anthony Salvin, with James Watson as mason. The stone used was Bath stone. None of the inner or outer baily buildings survive, and the original Norman bridge over the inner ditch was replaced in about the year 1825.

The castle was used as a gaol from 1220, with additional buildings constructed on the top of the motte next to the keep. These buildings were demolished and rebuilt between 1789 and 1793 by Sir John Soane, and more alterations were made in 1820. The use of the Castle as a gaol ended in 1887, when it was bought by the city of Norwich to be used as a museum. The conversion was undertaken by Edward Boardman, and the museum opened in 1895.

The castle remains a museum and art gallery today and still contains many of its first exhibits, as well as many more recent ones. Although not permanently on display, one of the largest collections it holds is the butterfly collection of Margaret Fountaine. The Castle also houses a good collection of the work of the Flemish artist Peter Tillemans. The Chief curator is Dr John Davies, the Senior curator is Dr Andrew Moore, and the Curator of the Natural History department is Dr Tony Irwin.

Text courtesy © Wikipedia

Norwich is the capital of East Anglia and Norfolk, the Castle makes a good centre piece to this City and a great historic place to visit for locals and tourists of all ages.

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