MORE than 100 people flocked to Oakham Castle to support the launch of a £2m restoration project.
Rutland County Council is due to submit a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund which would help fund a huge programme of extensive restoration work, exciting events and a regular programme of re-enactments.
On Sunday, crowds turned out at the venue to find out more about the bid and enjoy entertainment from an open-air performance of William Shakespeare’s Richard III.
Rutland County Council leader Roger Begy (Con) said: “We are delighted that the local community seems to share our excitement about this opportunity to transform Oakham Castle.
“It’s one of the major tourist attractions in the county and the opportunity to improve things not only benefits visitors, but also those who live here.
“The message from those who attended was extremely supportive and people were keen to talk about how the castle could be improved, particularly for events and school visits.
“There was certainly a lot of interest and enthusiasm to see the castle restored both physically and as a centre for events and tourism.”
If the bid is successful, the funds will pave the way for extensive restoration work throughout the castle, including restoring the castle walls and preserving the historic horseshoe collection.
The castle building is at the top of Market Street and the grounds stretch from the Market Place to Cutts Close and from Burley Road to All Saints’ Church.
Part of the grounds are surrounded by a wall which English Heritage placed on the “at risk” register.
The castle has a long history and is the oldest English court building that has remained in continuous use with trials taking place there as early as 1229. There is still a crown court held there every two years.
The inside of the castle walls are decorated with horseshoes, which are presented by members of the Royal Family on their visits to the county.
During the next few months, the council will be actively seeking views from the local community on how the castle can be best preserved, developed and improved.