Oakham Castle is to close for nearly seven months as work continues on a multi-million pound project to refurbish the historic site.
Oakham Castle was awarded a £2.165 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2014 following a joint bid by Rutland County Council, Oakham Town Council and the Friends of Rutland County Museum.
The money is being used to fund an extensive restoration of the castle. The curtain wall, which originally defended the site from enemies, will be revealed through the removal of the overgrown trees and shrubs, and will be expertly consolidated and conserved.
The Great Hall will benefit from restoration of the lime-plaster walls, conservation of the court furnishings and improved access facilities.
Visitors will be able to enjoy comprehensive exhibitions and displays on the history of the castle and town, and a new toilet block will be constructed.
The grounds will also benefit from new planting, and the creation of a medieval garden area, to be created in partnership with Oakham in Bloom. With improved information for visitors, and greatly enhanced facilities for weddings and family events, the castle will once again become a centre of activity for the county.
The castle will close Tuesday until March 25, 2016, as work gets underway on the Great Hall and castle grounds, but will reopen for one day on October 6 to host the biennial Crown Court sitting – preserving its status as one of the country’s longest continuous courts.
Rutland County Council leader Roger Begy (Con) said: “Oakham Castle is one of Rutland’s finest heritage treasures and the work that’s being carried out aims to develop the site into a first-class cultural centre for the County. We want to conserve and consolidate the architectural features for future generations, improve access and develop the facilities there.
“It’s necessary to close the site for a short period of time while this work is carried out. We know it’s a popular place and regret any inconvenience this may cause. We’re looking forward to seeing what visitors make of the improvements.”