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A new medieval gallery

As part of the Gateway to Medieval England project we are creating a new gallery in partnership with the British Museum.

This gallery will be a showcase for objects from Norwich Castle’s unique collections alongside treasures from the British Museum.

The gallery will give an insight into East Anglia in the medieval world: from the Norman Conquest to the Reformation in the early 16th century.  Housed in the majestic surroundings of Norwich Castle Keep, historic objects, archaeology and fun interactive displays will tell the story of these 500 years of profound social, cultural and religious change.

A highlight among Norwich Castle’s designated collection is the Ashwellthorpe Triptych.  Commissioned by the knight and diplomat Sir Christopher Knyvett the triptych was made in Flanders (about 1490–1525).  Featuring a painting of the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary alongside Sir Christopher and his wife, the triptych demonstrates the wealth, trade and religiosity of medieval East Anglia.

Similarly, the Helmingham Breviary, made in the 1420s, is not only a wonderful illuminated manuscript; it also reveals the rituals of medieval life.

There will be a rich display of arms and armour revealing the etiquettes of both war and chivalry.  A sword associated with Sir John Fastolf, a successful warrior during the Hundred Years War, will be displayed, evoking the power and romance of the medieval knight.

Alongside themes of religion and chivalry, the new displays will give insight into the daily lives of ordinary people including women and children, from their dress, diet and pastimes to their health and hygiene.  The displays highlight cataclysmic events such as the Black Death and through objects including the Wymondham Abbey coffin show both the harshness and poignancy of their medieval existence.

Finally, the unique history of Norwich as England’s second city will be told, linking the past to the present and reminding us of our shared inheritance and the legacy of the medieval past.