Hartlebury Castle ready to reopen to visitors after £5m transformation
Thousands of visitors are expected to flock to a Midland castle which is set to launched as a major tourist attraction after being bought and restored, thanks to a £5 million National Lottery grant.
Hartlebury Castle, near Kidderminster, will open to the public on Monday with a May Day Festival starting at 11am.
For centuries the castle has been the home of the Bishops of Worcester and was bought by Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust from the Church Commissioners who successfully obtained a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2014 to restore the building.
Now the building, which also houses the Worcestershire County Museum, has been turned into a tourist attraction.
Visitors will be able to explore rooms ever before open to the public, promenade along the reinstated Long Gallery and marvel at talking portraits, explore the historic grounds, enjoy hands-on activities and unearth stories about the Castle and the people who that lived in the building.
Hartlebury Castle was home to the Bishops of Worcester for 1,000 years and has housed the Worcestershire County Museum for 50 years.
Now these have become one unified visitor destination and the May Day festival will include traditional entertainment, craft stalls, maypole dancing and children’s craft activities, as well as a chance to explore the new developments for the very first time.
Work carried out on the building has been focused on unveiling previously unseen areas of the Castle and grounds, and bringing them to life though exciting interpretation and activities.
The Hurd Library Interpretation Room offers the chance for visitors to see this area which was established in 1781 by Bishop Hurd when King George III gave him 100 books and this was to be the start of a fascinating and unique collection.
The Long Gallery room depicts five key periods of the Castle’s history, exploring the lives of its bishops and their fascinating achievements.
Visitors will be able to search through drawers and cupboards to discover wonderful facts and objects of the time.
Talking portraits will greet people who will be fascinated by finding a world beyond a wardrobe and be enchanted by the story of Alexander on the bookworm trail.
People can follow in the footsteps of Queen Elizabeth I, King George III and Queen Charlotte as they stroll around the moat on a new walk revealing the grounds for the very first time, including a 270-year-old Mulberry tree.
Jacqui Watson, chairman of Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust, said: “It’s wonderful to finally be able to fully open the doors to the Castle and grounds for people to share in and enjoy. "