Celebrating a Historic Year for Heritage and Culture

Posted on: Friday, December 9, 2022

The Heritage and Culture Team at Newark and Sherwood District Council are celebrating a successful year of welcoming more people to get involved and have fun across their sites. Residents and visitors from further afield have enjoyed family days at Newark Castle, a brilliant line-up of shows at the Palace Theatre and a huge range of activities for all ages at the National Civil War Centre.

April saw the first Medieval Fun Day take place in the Castle grounds with a staggering 4000 visitors enjoying have-a-go archery, falconry, inflatable jousting, jester skills and more. It was one of three free community events able to take place thanks to funding from the Gilstrap Foundation, with thousands more people going on to enjoy the 17th Century Scenes Civil War re-enactment in July and the historical science-themed Heritage Open Day in September. Plans are already in place for more events in the grounds, including the return of the Medieval Fun Day, in 2023 as work also advances on the exciting Castle Gatehouse Project.

The National Civil War Centre has experienced a particularly bumper year for school visits with over 3000 children attending on learning trips. These range from year 2s at Lovers Lane Primary School learning to be pages on a Knights Day at Newark Castle, to John Hunt Primary School learning about prehistory, huge groups of year 8 and 9s from as far afield as Cheshire and Northumberland coming to learn about the Civil War, and A level history students from Newark Academy visiting to explore the galleries and handle objects. Many more schools have interacted with the Centre online too, with a host of new resources being published for teachers on their website and YouTube channel, and more coming soon.

And it’s not just schoolchildren who’ve been enjoying fun at the Centre; Sarah Clarke, Learning and Participation Manager there, said: “We dubbed 2022 our ‘Year of Play’ to help us experiment with playful ideas at the museum. We wanted to encourage local families to enjoy being in our spaces, trying and learning new things like art and crafts, storytelling, guided tours, object handling and meeting soldiers and other reenactors.

This year, we’ve got our hands dirty with clay, made printed Christmas cards and felt sunflowers, and noisily hammered our own siege coins! These events have been a great success, with over two hundred visitors joining us on some Family Saturdays, so we’ve decided to continue the fun into 2023 and would love to see you join us for these great events on the first Saturday of each month.”

The Palace Theatre has also been enjoying a return to buzzing auditoriums following the Covid closures of the last few years. Packed programmes in spring and autumn welcomed tens of thousands of visitors through the doors to enjoy shows from Leo Sayer, Milton Jones, Nish Kumar, Giovanni Pernice, Kate Rusby and more, while families made fun memories together at Jurassic Live, Rapunzel, The Animal Guyz and Wind in the Willows. The Palace at the Castle summer season of outdoor theatre at Newark Castle also returned and saw hundreds of people settling in for fantastic entertainment in these remarkable surrounds.

Now, with 2022’s spectacular Christmas show Cinderella opening its doors this week, the Palace is looking forward to its busiest panto season since 2017 with local audiences flocking to marvel at the amazing live music, sensational sets, stunning costumes and sparkling special effects on offer in this festive family extravaganza running until Saturday 31 December.

Speaking on the fantastic year that Heritage and Culture has had, Councillor Rhona Holloway, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Visitors at Newark and Sherwood Council, said: “I’m so proud of our entire Heritage and Culture Team for their incredible work offering more opportunities than ever before for local people to get involved with and enjoy the arts. The wealth and range of events and activities put on across the Castle, Palace Theatre and National Civil War Centre has enabled thousands of people of all ages to engage with heritage and culture and the creativity, energy and enthusiasm of everyone involved, from the hardworking staff to the invaluable volunteers is truly something to be celebrated.

To stay informed about upcoming events at the Palace Theatre, National Civil War Centre and Newark Castle, make sure to follow their pages on Facebook.