National Civil War Centre promises spectacular re-enactments as opening weekend nears

By Ben Miller | 07 January 2015

National Civil War Centre to open in May with largest ever Midlands re-enactment of turbulent 17th century times

Click on the picture to launch the gallery

A battery of cannons and nearly 900 re-enactors will descend upon the market town of Newark, in Nottinghamshire, when the country’s National Civil War Centre opens with a recreation of three 17th century sieges, organisers have announced.

Promising an “epic clash of arms”, the £5.4 million venue, which welcomed limited numbers of visitors to its Grade II-listed home for hard-hatted tours last week, will summon the atmosphere of the struggle between Royalists and their Parliamentary and Scottish enemies, pitting the sides against each other over the River Trent at Newark Castle.

A photo of large brown turdor wooden beams above the roof of an ancient house
Huge wooden beams above the Grade II-listed Old Magnus Building© Doug Jackson
“The last siege of Newark, during the bad winter of 1645, put civilians in the front line. Many of the key historic locations are intact,” says Howard Giles, of co-ordinators EventPlan. The Old Magnus Building, where the Centre is based, survived a Civil War bombardment.

“The agony extended for six months, leaving an indelible imprint on the town, even to this day.

“What makes this re-enactment so special is the fact that Newark has such compelling Civil War stories – not just about great figures such as Prince Rupert, but about the ordinary townspeople.”

Living history camps, demonstrations of crafts and 17th century medicine, arms drills, set-piece battles and a recreation of the final moments of the third siege, when the bedraggled Royalist garrison marched with its flags flying after surrendering, are also planned for the opening weekend.

Michael Constantine, of the Centre, said the largest re-enactment ever held in the region would be “incredible”.

“The National Civil War Centre is a huge development for the whole area, which will have a tremendous impact on the town,” he added.

“Such a major project deserves to be launched on a truly grand scale.”
Local residents got to handle cannon balls, try on replica armour and admire the one-tonne oak beams which have been inserted into the 16th century roof of the building.

Rare graffiti, etched onto the walls when the building was used as a boys' school as long ago as 1608, has been carefully protected.

“The Tudor roof has been stripped back, revealing the fantastic beams,” said Carol King, the Learning and Participation Team Leader at the Centre.

“Elsewhere, the Victorian and Georgian rooms will soon be completed ready for fitting out.

“This is an amazing time for the Civil War project and everyone's pulse is picking up as we get nearer the grand opening.”

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