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Protesters through time

Rebellion Gallery

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

The Rebellion Gallery explores the most riotous moments in the history of Nottingham, its castle and the impact these had on the country. Discover the people of Nottingham’s inherent rebel spirit as you travel through these three tempestuous moments where the people rose up against the powerful few.

King Charles raises his standard

Parliament vs the King

The Civil War

In August 1642, King Charles I signalled the start of the British Civil War at Nottingham Castle by raising his standard on a hill just outside the walls. But the people of Nottingham were unimpressed by the King’s call to arms and the town became a stronghold for Parliament throughout the conflict.

With the sturdy walls of Nottingham Castle defended by Governor John Hutchinson and documented by Lucy, his diarist wife, see the first hand account of life in a castle at war.

Discover the soldiers, the sieges and the subterfuge of this turbulent time in the country’s history.

Luddites break knitting frames

The fight against exploitation

The Luddites

It’s 1811 and here comes Ned Ludd with his hammer of defiance – smashing the masters’ knitting frames in protest for an honest wage. Nottingham’s textile workers had made the town wealthy but their livelihoods were now at risk.

As the threat of Napoleon looms over Europe, Nottingham’s textile workers are in a fight of their own as their labour was being phased out through rapid industrialisation. “As poor as a stockinger” has become an everyday phrase, and you can only push hungry people so far.

When threatening letters are sent to the local press and gangs start breaking industrial machinery, rebellion is in the air.

Nottingham Castle aflame 1831

The fight for the vote

Parliamentary Reform

By the 1830s Nottingham has become an over-crowded industrial town and the people are wanting more say in how decisions are made. Parliament is corrupt with the right to elect MPs given to only a select few in rotten boroughs and, while Nottingham elected two MPs, some towns and cities such as fast growing Manchester elected none.

Trouble is brewing when the House of Lords, including the castle’s owner, the Duke of Newcastle, throws out the reforms which would have given more people the vote and scrapped the system’s worst excesses. Tempers ignite leading to Nottingham’s most notorious act of protest – the burning of Nottingham Castle on the night of 10th October 1831.

Watch as the Riot Act is read out and the Hussars are called up to put down the riots by force.

What else is there to see at Nottingham Castle?

There is plenty to enjoy, see and do on a visit to Nottingham Castle! From the Legend of Robin Hood to Nottingham’s history of makers. Explore our other highlights.

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