October 10, 2014, by bramh2
The burning of the castle
By Professor John Beckett, Department of History
On 10 October 1831 a large crowd gathered in Nottingham and went to the Castle, which they broke into and set on fire. The original medieval castle had been demolished in the 1650s, and replaced by a Renaissance palace which was and is known, confusingly, as the castle. It was owned by the dukes of Newcastle, who had large estates at Clumber Park, and elsewhere in the country. They did not live in the castle, and only visited occasionally, usually at election time in order to remind local people of their political influence. The 4th Duke of Newcastle was a determined opponent of Parliamentary reform, and when news reached Nottingham on 8 October 1810 that the House of Lords had thrown out a bill designed to bring in reform there was much unrest in the town. On the morning of 10 March the mayor called a town meeting to discuss what they might do next. Although the meeting took place peacefully, a crowd of people subsequently went to Colwick Hall which they attacked, and then during the evening to Nottingham castle. The building was set alight, and gutted, with two fatalities. By repute people turned out to watch the event, despite pouring rain. Newcastle was annoyed that little was done by the authorities to protect his property. He sued for compensation, which he then pocketed, and left the castle as a ruin. In the 1870s Nottingham City Council took it over and transformed it into a municipal museum, which it remains today. The Newcastle family continued to use Clumber Park when in Nottinghamshire, but the ducal influence on elections in Nottingham was gone forever.
“The burning of the castle” is a talk and lightshow, which takes place on 20th November at 6.30-9.30pm, at the Nottingham Castle Museum as part of the Heroes and Villains: subversion and rebellion in Nottinghamshire events programme for the Being Human Festival of the Humanities.
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