Day of celebrations planned to mark reopening of Oakham Castle

Cllr Oliver Hemsley with with Castle Activity Manager Charlotte Widgery and one of the reenactors who will be at the reopening on 30th May. EMN-160324-105423001
Cllr Oliver Hemsley with with Castle Activity Manager Charlotte Widgery and one of the reenactors who will be at the reopening on 30th May. EMN-160324-105423001

Oakham Castle will reopen its doors to members of the public on Monday, May 30, with a fantastic day of Norman celebrations.

The castle has benefitted from a £2.1m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and been closed for restoration work for more than six months.

The 12th century curtain wall surrounding the site has been rescued from damaging tree roots and the Great Hall has been re-pointed, repainted and the horseshoes cleaned.

The court has a new roof and is now home to a variety of new family activities so people can learn about the building’s long history.

A grand reopening will take place, transporting visitors back to Norman England. There will be demonstrations and chances to have a go at a variety of activities including Norman coin striking, falconry, archery and weaving. Knights on horseback will parade through the town and guided tours of the site will help unlock the castle’s secrets.

Portfolio holder for culture and tourism Oliver Hemsley said: “The restoration of Oakham Castle is helping to bring a hugely significant piece of English history back to life.

“The castle has always been one of the most popular tourist attractions in the East Midlands and we hope the improvements that have been made will draw even more people to Rutland in 
future.

“The castle is a much-loved piece of Rutland’s heritage and we want the reopening to be something really special.

“The events and activities that are planned will give visitors a small taste of Norman England while also offering people a chance to get their first glimpse of the restoration.

“It’s sure to be a fantastic family day out and everyone is welcome.”

Charlotte Widgery, the newly appointed castle activity manager, said: “The restoration project aims to transform Oakham Castle into a first-class culture and heritage centre for Rutland, with lots more for families and visitors to see and do.

“From this summer there will be concerts, dances, living history days, storytelling and drop in activities to keep the whole family entertained.

“The castle has been the focal point of the community for hundreds of years as a court and power house and will soon reopen as a great place for days out, weddings and a place to learn new skills as a volunteer.

“The reopening marks the start of a brand new era for the castle.”

The reopening of Oakham Castle coincides with the return of the High Sheriff’s Hue and Cry – a centuries’ old tradition that upholds the Sheriff’s ancient right to call on good people to assist in apprehending criminals and villains.

The revived Hue and Cry will take the form of a charity chase down Oakham High Street, with prizes for winners and the best-dressed participants.

All proceeds from the Hue and Cry will go to support the High Sheriff’s charities. Sarah Furness will be declared as Rutland’s new High Sheriff on April 7 and is organising the Hue and Cry, which will also feature a Pillory, market stalls and Morris dancing.

To register, e-mail RutlandSheriff16@gmail.com

Further information about the restoration of Oakham Castle and events taking place on Monday, May 30, can be found online at: oakhamcastle.wordpress.com