About Nottingham Castle
Explore what we have to offer at Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery and Caves.
- Art & Exhibitions at Nottingham Castle
- Nottingham Castle Museum Galleries
- Nottingham Castle's History
- Nottingham Castle's Caves
Exhibition spaces & Permanent Collections
The best regional, national and international art in the regularly changing exhibition galleries. Plus the permanent exhibitions showcase costume and textiles, silverware, glass and jewellery all year round.
The Long Gallery
This gallery is currently part of the Trent to Trenches exhibition.
This space houses a permanent display of the best of the museum's fine art. The painting collection covers British and European art ranging in date from the 11th century to the present day. Highlights include: a group of 17th Dutch and Northern European paintings; paintings by important Nottingham artists Paul Sandby, Richard Parkes Bonington, Thomas Barber, John Rawson Walker and Henry Dawson; a 20th century British collection including works by William Nicholson, Ben Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson, Dame Laura Knight, Harold Knight, Edward Burra, Edward Wadsworth and Tristram Hillier, Mathew Smith, L.S. Lowry, Ivon Hitchens and Stanley Spencer.
If you love the paintings at Nottingham Castle, you can buy your very own print from our online gallery - see if your favourite is available now.
A number of themed Long Gallery trails will guide children, families and adults through the displays.
Temporary Exhibition Spaces
Nottingham Castle hosts an exciting temporary exhibition programme featuring paintings, photography, textiles, installations and sculpture - from internationally-renowned exhibitions to home-grown talents. Previous shows have included Andy Warhol, British Art Show and Waking Dreams a collection of pre-Raphaelite masters.
The collection includes ceramics, glass, silver and jewellery. The Joseph Collection of mainly 18th century Wedgwood Jasperware is one of the largest and finest in the world.
Discover over 15 centuries of Nottingham history brought to life in the museum through interactive display and stories. Learn about the sites turbulent past, it's legends and people of the city.
Threads Gallery & Costume Collection
An exquisite collection of outfits, shoes, hats, masks, fabrics and textiles from around the world and through the ages. From Victorian dress to a suit by internationally renowned fashion icon and Nottingham export, Paul Smith. Although there is a small amount on display at the Castle the rest of the collection is held at Newstead Abbey. Although it is not on display it is still available for study groups and enquiries. To speak to someone about the costume collection please email Haidee.Jackson@nottinghamcity.gov.uk
WFR Sherwood Foresters Regimental Museum
An informative museum charting the history of a local regiment, who are now part of the Mercian Regiment.
A gallery dedicated to our younger visitors and their accompanying adults. The current exhibition, Take One Look, features some of the most popular paintings from the Fine Art collection, including The Goose Fair, Nottingham by Arthur Spooner, and Gypsy Splendour by Dame Laura Knight, both of whom are local artists. Objects from the museum collection, specially made costumes and a reading corner inspired by Romany caravans combine to inspire and excite the imagination of all children.
A Brief History of Nottingham Castle
Standing high on Castle Rock overlooking the city, Nottingham Castle is visited by over 270,000 visitors each year!
Many visitors question where the castle is, as they expect to find a traditional English castle. Instead they find the first Duke of Newcastle's Ducal Palace. However, the prospect house that remains is as precious as any historic structure in the country and is unique and enchanting in its own right. The building is protected by Grade One listed status, whilst Castle Rock and the cave system within it, is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
The History of Nottingham Castle
1067 - William the Conqueror builds the first Castle on the site, a wooden structure built upon the vantage point of the Castle rock.
1170 - The Castle is rebuilt in stone by Henry II. It is now the principal royal fortress in the Midlands.
1194 - Richard The Lionheart reclaims Nottingham Castle from his brother John using siege tactics. This is the only time in the Castle's history that an occupier is defeated in such a way.
1330 - Roger Mortimer, lover of Queen Isabella, is captured by supporters of her son, King Edward III who enter the castle through a tunnel cut through the rock. The cave is known as Mortimer's Hole to this day and is a favourite spot with visitors.
1485 - Richard III leaves Nottingham Castle to ride to Bosworth where he dies in battle at the hands of Henry Tudor who claims the throne, becoming Henry VII.
1622 - James I sells Nottingham Castle to the Earl of Rutland.
1642 - Charles I raises his standard outside the castle walls, here beginning the Civil War. Ironically for most of the war the site is held by the opposing parliamentary forces under the command of Colonel Hutchinson.
1651 - Permission is given for Hutchinson to demolish Nottingham Castle.
1663 - William Cavendish, First Duke of Newcastle ,purchases the site. He begins work on a prospect house high on Castle Rock but dies before its completion. His son completes the work on this unique building in 1678.
1831 - The building is attacked and looted by rioters following the Duke of Newcastle's opposition to parliamentary reform. The Ducal Palace is gutted internally when arsonists vent their anger at the Duke. As a silent rebuke to the people of Nottingham the Duke leaves the ruined building un-repaired for 45 years.
1875 - Thomas Chambers Hine, a local architect, is appointed to adapt the Castle into a building suitable for use as a museum and art gallery.
1878 - Nottingham Castle is opened by the Prince of Wales who later becomes Edward VII. Nottingham celebrates the first municipal museum and art gallery outside London.
Nottingham Castle Caves
Beneath Nottingham Castle a labyrinth of manmade caves and tunnels continue to tell the turbulent story of this historic site. Enjoy a memorable tour discovering the secret passageways, King David's legendary dungeon, the Duke of Newcastle's Wine Cellar or Mortimer's Hole.
Take a tour to experience the caves for yourself, learning on the way the gruesome tales of Roger Mortimer or King David II of Scotland...
With some of the caves dating back to medieval times, the tour is strenuous with over 300 steep steps. However, for those who wish to descend through hundreds of years the tour is a must.
The famous tunnel known as Mortimer's Hole is carved into the sandstone outcrop on which the Castle stands. The passage way is eerie enough but is made all the more so by the reputed presence of the ghost of Sir Roger Mortimer himself.
Mortimer, the Earl of March and lover of Queen Isobel, was probably her accomplice in the murder of Edward II. On the night of October 19 1330 the Queen and her lover Mortimer were staying at Nottingham Castle. Seeking to bring his father's killer to justice and expose his feckless mother, the young King Edward III entered a network of secret tunnels that led ultimately into the Castle itself.
With a band of loyal supporters the King burst into his mother's bedroom and surprised the lovers. Edward himself is said to have seized Mortimer. The now doomed monarch killer was led away, so legend has it, to Isobel's mournful cries of "Fair son, have pity on the gentle Mortimer."
Sir Roger was imprisoned in the Castle, taken to London and executed as a traitor. He was hung, drawn and quartered on the 29 November 1330 and his wretched remains skewered on spikes and left to rot on traitors gate 'Tyburn'.
The tunnel that led to Sir Roger's downfall became known after him and is still called "Mortimer Hole" today.
Hauntings at the Castle
Throughout the centuries Nottingham Castle has experienced both drama and mystery aplenty, so it's probably not that surprising to hear that tales of hauntings are rife.
Ghostly pleas for mercy
There are other ghosts connected with the Castle...
In 1212 King John held some 28 sons of Welsh noble families hostage in the castle. The boys, some as young as 12, lived at the castle for some time, and were allowed free rein within the walls. Then one day, the precise date is unknown, King John ordered all the hostages executed.
A chronicler states that the boys pitiful cries rang around the Castle as one after the other they were taken up on the ramparts and hanged in a row. Their ghostly pleas for mercy are still said to be heard within the Castle precincts.
If you'd like to receive further information on what's on in Nottingham, you can visit our online guide and/or sign up to receive our e-newsletter. Visit the What's On homepage for details.
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