Chester Castle temporary opening summer 2017
Chester Castle will be opened to visitors for a pilot period of six weeks this summer from 20 July to 3 September.
Chester Castle is owned by English Heritage and Crown Estates.
It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument of international significance. It provides a rare example of a single site continually used and adapted for the exercise of royal, civil, military and judicial authority for 1,000 years.
The recently adopted Heritage and Visual Arts Strategy for the city highlights the significance of the Castle, including the possibility of re-locating the museum and art gallery to the site.
This will be subject to detailed feasibility.
In the meantime work has been ongoing with English Heritage and Crown Estates to enable the site to be opened to the public for a pilot period during this summer from 20 July to 3 September.
The intention of the pilot project is to raise awareness of the Castle, enable visitors to explore the site, experience the views and learn more about the history of the Castle.
English Heritage will grant a licence to Cheshire West and Chester to enable the site to be opened.
The site will be managed by West Cheshire Museums service staff supported by volunteers.
The Castle will be open Tuesday to Saturday 10.30am — 4.30pm and Sunday 1pm — 4pm and Bank Holiday Monday 28 August.
Entry to the site will be free with access gained via the gateway located in Castle Square or via a new access to be created off the City walls (subject to Crown Estate approval which is currently being negotiated).
This will enable visitors to enter the Castle via the Sally Port steps.
Visitors will be able to:
enter the 12th century Agricola Tower up to first floor level (there will be no public access to any other buildings on the site)
participate in a weekend events programme which is currently being developed with partner organisations together with occasional weekday pop up activity, details of the programme and activities will be shared when they are finalised.
A new pop up exhibition will be installed on the ground floor of the Agricola Tower.
This will tell the story of Chester Castle.
A grant of £6,000 from the Earl of Chester Fund has enabled this element of the project to be delivered.
Work is ongoing to recruit volunteers to support the opening.
The initial response, particularly from students at University of Chester, has been encouraging.
A full training programme will be provided for all volunteers.
There will be a full review of the pilot project in September, the outcome of which will be fed into the ongoing longer term strategic feasibility study.
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