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Newark school thanks The National Lottery Heritage Fund for their Newark Castle Gatehouse support

A school’s pupils have shown their thanks for a £1.4million grant for Newark Castle.

Last week, Newark and Sherwood District Council received a grant of £1.4million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for its ambitious plans to create a new and improved visitor attraction at Newark Castle.

Year five students from Bishop Alexander Academy took to Newark Castle on Thursday, May 16, to celebrate the news of the funding.

Bishop Alexander Academy pupils making The National Lottery Heritage Fund logo
Bishop Alexander Academy pupils making The National Lottery Heritage Fund logo

The famous Bishop Alexander ‘the Magnificent’ of Lincoln, which the school is named after, built Newark Castle in the 1130s.

Students gathered in the Castle Gardens to make an outline of the Heritage Fund logo and to hold up signs thanking them.

This project has been made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the plan will allow visitors into the Newark Castle’s original Romanesque Gatehouse where they’ll be able to learn more about the castle’s story through time as five gallery spaces bring its medieval history to life through fascinating, fun and interactive displays, designed by Nissen Richards Studio.

Rowan Cozens, deputy leader and portfolio holder for heritage, culture and the arts at Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “This is absolutely wonderful news for the town, and is the final piece of the puzzle we’ve been waiting for to kick start this fantastic project.

“Without the funding from National Lottery players and the Heritage Fund, we could not start the project, so I’m delighted they have made such a substantial grant to the project, and like us, could see the huge benefit this could bring to Newark. I thank them wholeheartedly.”

Robyn Llewellyn, area director, Midlands and East at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “We are delighted to be supporting these ambitious plans to revitalise the historic Newark Castle Gatehouse. The story of the castle dates back to the 12th century, and it’s fantastic that support from National Lottery players will keep this historic site relevant for future generations.”

The project will enable people to discover the origins of the castle and explore the wealth of its history which dates back to the 12th century.

There will also be a tower-top viewing platform from which visitors can overlook great views of Trent Valley. The project aims to enhance and protect the natural environment and green space within this historic site, establishing more biodiversity and enhancing accessibility through landscape development.

Bishop Alexander Academy pupils celebrating the funds
Bishop Alexander Academy pupils celebrating the funds

Miss Evans, school teacher at Bishop Alexander Academy, said: “Our students are really excited about this project as they’ve learnt a lot about Newark architecture and Newark Castle, so they’re thrilled to be here.

“Local history is really important as they can relate to the history and see buildings themselves and connect with it.

“We really appreciate the support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund in making this project possible, it will be amazing opportunity for local residents and our students are keen to be involved.”

Skye, a pupil at Bishop Alexander Academy, added: “Today we stood in The National Lottery Heritage Fund logo to say thank you for the funding. I like history and Newark Castle and my favourite thing is the different types of bricks and patterns you see on the walls.”

It’s anticipated that, once works are completed, the castle will attract almost 17,000 visitors each year from outside of the district, helping to deliver sustainable economic growth. It is proposed that entry to the exhibition will be half price for Newark and Sherwood residents, with free entry for children and young people.

Visitors will also be able to return for free as many times as they like within a 12-month period. Access to the grounds will remain free for all.

The Gatehouse Project is also set to make Newark Castle more family-friendly, with interactive exhibits, models, costumes and fun things to do for children and young people. The gardens will include a play trail, with medieval animals to find and sculptures to peep through. Alongside the development of the castle interior, there will be a five-year programme of free activities for people of all ages with lots of opportunities for residents to get involved.

The town’s early evening economy will be supported too with plans to improve the lighting in the grounds to enable a safe ‘after dark’ experience.

The project will cost £5.4m in total, with a £3m investment already committed from Newark and Sherwood District Council’s application to the Government’s Towns Fund initiative through Newark Town board.

Work on the castle is expected to take place in late 2024 with construction likely to take a couple of years.

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