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Construction work on Norwich Castle's historic Keep is underway.
The £13.5m project will transform the Keep back into a 12th Century royal palace and recreate all five levels, from basement to battlements, making it fully accessible for the first time in 900 years.
It is one of the biggest heritage projects currently underway in the UK.
"This is one of the most exciting times in the 900 year history of the castle", Cllr Margaret Dewsbury for Norfolk County Council said.
"We’re so pleased to announce that the construction project has begun.
"After such a testing time nationally and locally over the past few months, the Norwich Castle: Royal Palace Reborn project is a cause for optimism and is a major investment in the future of the city and the county.
"We look forward to seeing the results of this fantastic project which will secure Norwich Castle’s future as a jewel in Norfolk’s and the UK’s heritage crown.”
Working conditions during the construction phase will follow the government’s Covid-19 distancing guidelines.
The project will transform the Keep’s internal spaces by reinstating its medieval floors and rooms that enables people to explore and experience a Norman royal palace and itsstories.
The Keep is expected to be open by 2022 and will include:
The recreation of the Norman interior spaces of the Keep through reinstating the original principal floor level. This will enable the interpretation of the Keep as it appeared during its heyday under the great Norman kings, including the recreation of the Great Hall, King’s chamber and chapel.
The construction of a unique viewing platform at battlement level which will offer stunning views of medieval and present-day Norwich
The installation of a new lift to ensure that all five levels of the Keep – from basement to battlements – are fully accessible for the first time in its history
The development of a new medieval gallery, designed in partnership with the British Museum, that will showcase national medieval treasures alongside objects from Norfolk’s own internationally-significant collections
The creation of dedicated learning spaces, including a multi-sensory area for our Early Years audiences where they will be encouraged to lead their own creative exploration of life in a medieval castle
The creation of new visitor and school entrances including a glass atrium which will afford, for the first time in fifty years, clear views of the Keep’s beautiful East façade and Bigod Tower, from inside the Museum
The development of new visitor facilities including a new café overlooking the atrium with an internal glass bridge into the Keep, and a new shop
Upgraded toilets which will include a Changing Places facility designed to accommodate visitors who cannot use a standard accessible toilet