The periods of

Rebellion Gallery

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Step back in time to experience three of Nottingham’s most rebellious and bloody episodes. 

Starting in Medieval times and moving through to the 19th Century, this gallery explores important moments in the history of the Castle, Nottingham, and England. The thread running through these stories is the spirit of Rebellion; the restlessness of the majority against the corrupt but powerful few, and the desire to bring about change for the good of the people. 


With large-scale AV presentations, digital interactive games, historic objects and artworks the exhibition brings these three episodes in Nottingham’s history to life. 

Advisory Notice: Please note that this gallery features the history of Nottingham and the Castle over the last 1.000 years and includes content that some could find distressing.

Civil War 1642 – 1644: 

Nottingham citizens defy the Royalist forces of Charles I throughout the Civil War 


Tapestry maps of Nottinghamshire, 17th century | NCM 1975-241/1 & 241/2

This landscape evokes the medieval world of the Rodin Hood stories. Over the next 200 years it will experience civil war, riots and rebellion.

These exquisite tapestries are a snapshot of the county in 1632, on the eve of the British Civil Wars. Based on earlier maps by Christopher Saxton (1576) and John Speed (1610), they were commissioned by Mary Eure, the daughter of a prosperous Nottinghamshire landowner.


Lucy Hutchinson’s Journal 

This book contains the diary entries of Lucy Hutchinson, wife and close confidant of John Hutchinson who was Governor of Nottingham Castle during the Civil War and one of the men who signed Charles I’s death warrant. It was written by Lucy for her children to defend their father’s legacy after his death in prison. 

The journal describes the trials and dilemmas John and Lucy faced during and after the civil war, including her decision to personally treat the wounds of the injured, both Parliamentarian and Royalist alike. 


Lucy Hutchinson’s Memoir | NCM 1922-71

Memoirs of the life of Colonel Hutchinson by Lucy Hutchinson (written 1664-71)


Mrs. Lucy Hutchinson, an engraving after an original painting by Sir Anthony Van Dyke (1599-1641); engraved by Freeman and published by Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Patnernoster Row, London in 1806.

© Nottingham City Museums and Galleries

NCM 1983/4

Luddites 1811 – 1817 

The people of a now heavily industrial Nottingham are in uproar over their working rights.


Blackburn’s Sabre – The Sword of a Luddite 1817 | NCMG 2017-36

This object known as John Blackburn’s sabre, belonged to the ringleader of a gang of Nottingham men who attacked John Heathcote’s factory in Loughborough on the night of 28 June 1816. Three of the gang were arrested and one, James Towle was hanged. 


After escaping from this raid unpunished, Blackburn was caught poaching at the estate of Lord Middleton and handed over to the authorities. On the promise of his freedom he turned informer, giving the names of his accomplices, resulting in six of them being hanged. Blackburn was then allowed to leave England and go to Canada. 

Parliamentary Reform 1830 – 1832 

Nottingham’s notorious act of protest – the burning of the Castle – October 10th, 1831.

Model of the Ducal Palace 


Model of burnt-out palace | NH-X 1019

Model of the burnt-out Ducal palace, supposedly prepared in 1111831-32 as court evidence.


On the 10th October 1831, a crowd of Nottingham people surged towards the Castle, furious with the residing Duke of Newcastle who had just openly declared his opposition to the Reform Act in parliament. The Reform Act, which would have given more people the vote and imposed more regulations on the electoral process, had just been rejected by the House of Lords. Breaking through the Gatehouse, rioters entered the Castle, setting it aflame and reducing it to a burnt out shell. 

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