Schools' Project 2010
Thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery 160 children from four local schools visited Astley Castle during its restoration and participated in a cross-curricular project.
The children visited the site and witnessed and recorded the restoration work at different stages. Children watched craftsmen at work and chatted to some of the builders. Some groups visited when the archaeologists were in residence and were able to handle objects found during their excavations.
The children also enjoyed privileged access to the Church of St Mary the Virgin whilst work to preserve the early 17th century wall paintings was
underway. Fine weather allowed the groups to explore the extensive grounds, including the viewing mound and the medieval fish ponds.
The site visit was followed by 2 days of activities back in the classroom. Drawings made on site were turned into beautiful watercolour impressions, whilst children also shared their ideas for an interpretation trail to guide visitors around the grounds.
Artists in Residence
A number of different artists and groups have been allowed to access the site to record their own personal impressions of the restoration work in progress. Astley Art Club worked with local artist and tutor Joe Rice during the consolidation and repair stage and their results were exhibited at Bedworth Arts Centre in April 2010.
Community Art, Exhibitions and Talks
In August 2010 an exhibition at Hinckley Library featured work created by local schools with artist Gary Bedford. Gary worked with the schools over a week long project and explored the links between Astley Castle and the wider area, in particular the War of the Roses and Lady Jane Grey. Further artwork was created with the Landmark Trust’s Education Officer for another exhibition at Nuneaton Musuem and Gallery in February 2011. This work explored links with local writer George Eliot. The last artwork pieces will be created during the open day events at the castle in June 2013. Family drop-in workshops with local artist Mark Stammers will look in more detail at architectural features, in particular the changes in the window styles.
Much of the work to clear self sown trees, restore pathways and create new footpaths has been done by BTCV volunteers (now TCV – The Conservation Volunteers). They have worked tirelessly in all weathers and have contributed much to the overall and ongoing maintenance of the natural habitats around the castle. New kissing gates, a bridge and steps have been built, allowing access across the parkland and allowing people of all ages and abilities to enjoy this historic landscape.
In Spring 2011, 16 volunteers were trained in how to repoint a stone wall using lime mortar. These newly trained recruits returned on site during the summer to help repoint the curtain wall.
In May 2010 a competition to design a new knot garden was launched. A design by Kate Heppell was chosen from over 100 entries.
The new garden was created in phases. The site was cleared in Autumn 2010, new hedges and trees planted February 2011, with more planting in the autumn. In 2012, we surfaced the walkways with brick and hoggin and added the final touches to the planting. Volunteers have also helped to level and re seed the open areas on the moated island.