Norwich Castle: 950 Years of History
William I (William the Conqueror) orders over 98 Saxon homes to be demolished, with tall castle earthworks and deep defensive ditches built in their place
A wooden motte-and-bailey castle withstands a rebel siege attempt
Work begins on the stone keep you see today, overseen by William (Rufus) II. This includes much larger earthworks to support its huge weight. Limestone is shipped from Caen in France at a cost of over three times the original value of the stone!
William II dies, and work on the stone keep is continued by his brother, Henry I
The stone keep is completed. It was intended as a royal palace, not a fortified stronghold. Henry I is thought to have stayed at the Castle during a crown wearing ceremony at Christmas
The Castle and its keep serve as a royal residence as well as a centre for legal and financial rule over the region
The Castle’s role as a legal centre takes over, and it is used as a prison for around 500 years, until the end of the 19th century
A new cell block designed by renowned architect, Sir John Soane, is built within the Keep. The Norman keep is just an empty roofless shell
The gaol is remodelled by local architect William Wilkins, following the latest thinking on prison design. The cell blocks are arranged like spokes of a wheel, with the gaoler’s house in the centre overlooking the whole prison
The keep is completely refaced with bright Bath stone, replacing the flint facing on the lower part. Architect Anthony Salvin faithfully recreates the original ornate arcading which makes Norwich Castle such a spectacular example of Romanesque architecture
Plans are approved for a new prison at Mousehold Heath on the outskirts of Norwich
John Gurney, Mayor of Norwich, donates £5000 to help move the Norfolk & Norwich Museum from St Andrew’s Street to the Castle
Architect Edward Boardman submits his plans for converting the gaol to a museum. Excavation and building work begins
The museum is opened on 23 October by the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George V and Queen Mary
A large development programme sees the construction of two new art galleries
The central Rotunda is introduced with the infilling of an open courtyard and garden to unify the museum and provide new facilities
A major repair and improvement programme is undertaken by Purcell Miller Tritton. The museum is formally re-opened by Queen Elizabeth II.
Major support is given by the Heritage Lottery Fund to return the keep to its medieval form and create new visitor facilities within the Castle.
New designs for the re-modelled keep and Castle entrance are under development.