A £2m restoration bid for Oakham Castle has been given initial approval by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Rutland County Council has now received £114,000 from the fund for further preparation work during 2013 with a view to submitting a full and final bid later this year.
A successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund will enable the council to carry out extensive work throughout the castle and to host an enhanced events programme, as well as more regular re-enactments and living history events.
Council leader Roger Begy (Con) said: “Getting approval at this first stage of the bid process is a major achievement and should not be underestimated.
“We are thrilled with this news as we put a great deal of hard work into our application. It’s exciting to think we’re only one stage away from potentially getting final approval, but we must not get ahead of ourselves.
“During the next few months, we’ll work closely with colleagues at the Heritage Lottery Fund as we prepare to submit our final bid later this year.”
Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the East Midlands Vanessa Harbar said: “Oakham Castle is an exceptional site full of fascinating historic features.
“We thought the proposals for this ambitious project were inspiring and if all goes to plan Rutland County Council will be on track to ensure the site and the Great Hall can be enjoyed by generations to come.
“We look forward to working with them as they further develop their ideas over the coming months.”
In addition to the plans for extensive restoration work and additional events, other areas identified for improvement are repair of the castle walls, new and improved toilet facilities, better information and signage and improved facilities for weddings and family events.
The final bid will be submitted in mid-October with a decision expected in early 2014.