Chapter VII.
Nottingham Castle as an art museum

THE best way from the Market Place to the Castle is by Friar Lane, which has been mentioned in an earlier chapter (see p. 64). On the left hand side of the road, just above Spaniel Row, are Collin's Alms Houses, very quaintly built of old red brick and red tiles. They form several blocks occupying a considerable piece of land extending to Hound's Gate. Built in 1709, there can be no doubt about their being "Queen Anne style," but very different from buildings often passed off as such. Notice the inscription over the centre of the main block, and the old sun-dial on the wall behind.

The Old Castle Gateway.

The grounds are entered by a gateway between two bastion towers, almost the only portion left of the Norman Castle. The road is here carried on arches of ancient masonry. A gradually ascending path takes us up to the main building, but before we go inside we may notice the granite obelisk to the memory of the officers and men of the Nottinghamshire Regiment who fell in the Afghan War, 1878-80, and the bronze bust commemorating Major White, of the Robin Hood Rifles (the local regiment of Volunteers). The general beauty of the locality will be remarked, which is much increased when the beds are gay with flowers. A band plays on the green during the summer months, and the extensive level plateau forms a most agreeable walk. Over the edge of this plateau, looking west, the ground suddenly drops, forming the precipice on which the old castle was built. Our road now follows the edge of the rock to the main entrance. The precipice continues also on the south aspect, and from this position most extensive views are obtained on a clear day.

View from the Terrace.

At the foot of the rock where the Leen used to flow we look down on Lenton Boulevard and the lower part of the Park; over to the west is seen Wollaton Hall, the beautiful seat of Lord Middleton; in front beyond the "Meadows," now occupied by railway lines and the unlovely consequences of thriving industry, lies the broad valley of the Trent with the wooded hills of Clifton; on the east the view is obscured by the smoke of the town, but in exceptionally clear weather the Belvoir Hills can be seen, and the seat of the Duke of Rutland; lastly the grey old tower of St. Mary's Church, standing on its own eminence like a rival to the castle, and many other buildings of the City, which can be well seen from here, deserve our notice.

The modern Castle is an oblong building, in the style of Inigo Jones, having two principal frontages, that on the east being enriched byCorinthian columns, while the west front presents two projecting wings united by a portico supported by columns. After the destruction of the Castle by rioters, it remained ruinous until 1875.

Origin of the Museum.

In January, 1872, the late Mr. W. G. Ward, then Mayor of Nottingham, induced by the marked success of the students of the School of Art, approached, through the Town Council, the South Kensington Museum authorities as to the formation of a loan Exhibition of Works of Art. Being promised by that Department every assistance in its power, he determined to mark his year of office by inaugurating an Exhibition, which was opened in the Exchange Rooms on the 20th May, 1872.

This Exhibition was continued for several years, during which time the proposal to take over the mansion known as Nottingham Castle, and restore and adapt it for a permanent Museum of Art, was ably advocated by the late Mr. Ward and others, and in 1875 the Town Council was empowered to take over the Castle and its grounds on a long lease from the Duke of Newcastle's Trustees, of whom the late Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone was one.

The restoration of the building and its interior adapta­tion was entrusted to Mr. T. C. Hine, the cost of this work being nearly £30,000, of which £12,000 was obtained by subscription.

The work of organizing the Museum was carried out under the superintendence of Mr. G. Harry Wallis, F.S.A., who has occupied the position of Director and Curator since its foundation.

The Museum was opened with a very important loan Collection of Art Treasures on July 3rd, 1878, by Their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales.

The upper floor has six galleries (the largest 160 ft. long), in which are arranged the permanent and loan collections of pictures, water-colours, etc. The Permanent Collec­tion includes pictures and drawings of the Foreign and English Schools, and includes works by Hondecoeter, Teniers the younger, Van der Neer, Palamedes, Wilkie, Etty, Stothard, John Phillip, Chambers, G. Morland, James Ward, J. S. Cotman, R. Wilson, Turner, R. P. Bonington, T. S. Cooper, G. F. Watts, H. Dawson, Clarence Whaite, La Thangue, H. S. Tuke, Arnesby-Brown, etc. The ground floor is divided into seven courts, containing collections of decorative art, arms, armour, decorative ironwork, and Oriental art. The collection of Wedgwood ware is arranged in the central court, with other collections of keramic art.

The important collection of Classical Antiquities from the site of the great Temple of Diana, Nemi, Italy, given by Lord Savile, is arranged in one room together with Egyptian and Cyprian objects.

In the South Court is arranged the Sculpture, etc.

An important feature of the Museum is the large gallery (114 feet long and 25 feet 10 inches wide) devoted to the collection of Textile Fabrics—laces, embroideries, etc., and methods of production by hand and machine.

The Permanent Collection of Pictures, Drawings, and objects of Decorative Art is now a very important one, containing some of the most important examples in the country, the monetary value of which is estimated at over £75,000.

Since the opening, valuable Bequests have been made, such as the Felix Joseph Collection of Wedgwood and Drawings, the Beaumont Collection of Pictures, the Sloane Stanley Collection of Jewellery and Lace, the Godson Millns Collection of Pictures, Miniatures, and Engravings of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nine­teenth centuries, the Viscountess Galway Collection of early Italian Drawings, etc., besides many gifts. A full list of donors' names will be found in the illustrated catalogue, of 250 pages and fifty-eight illustrations, lately compiled by Mr. Wallis, of the Permanent Collection of Pictures, Drawings, and Sculpture. A similar catalogue of the Collection of Decorative Art Objects is in course of preparation.

The other special Museum catalogues are of the Nemi Collection of Classical Antiquities, Collection of Drawings for Book Illustration, Illustrated Museum Guide, etc., copies of which can be obtained at the Catalogue table in the Museum.

Special Loan Collections have been held from time to time, illustrating the work of some one eminent master or period of Art, such as G. F. Watts, Richard Parkes Bonington, Henry Dawson, Edwin Ellis, etc.

Open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (closes in winter on Fridays at 4 p.m.) Admission free first four days of the week; on Fridays, 6d.; Saturdays, 1d.

Brewhouse Yard.

As we leave the Castle Gardens and turn to the left, down Castle Road, we pass the Riding School of the Nottinghamshire Yeomanry Cavalry (now South Notts Hussars, under command of Colonel Rolleston), erected 1798, at present used as a Drill Hall for the Robin Hood Rifles (Volunteers). We can now see portions of the mouldering outer walls of the original Castle. A little further down the steep hill we come to the old district known as Brewhouse Yard, long outside the jurisdiction of the town. This marks the position of the old brewery of the Castle, where beer was brewed for the garrison and inmates, and conveyed to the fortress by underground passages in the rock. Its connection with brewing is not yet at an end, for the narrow site manages to accommodate two public houses, both of a quaint old aspect. The first of these, "The Gate House," has "a parlour cut in the rock, with a hole at the top for the admission of light." The second, "The Trip to Jerusalem" (doubtless many a customer has gone there in imagination, under the exhilarating influence of his potations!) "has a kitchen, two large chambers, and other conveniences cut in the rock."* Beyond the inns are some red-tiled and gabled houses, well worth a visit, and yet beyond, some ancient dwellings perched up on the face of the cliff.

The Park may be reached in two ways from where we are standing; either from the level Boulevard at the foot of the rock, and thence along Peveril Drive (called after the Norman founder of the Castle), or by retracing our steps past the Lodge gates and turning down Lenton Road. This undulating site, consisting of a space of 140 acres, is enclosed on the north and east by the same rocky ridge on which the Castle is built, and was from ancient times part of its precincts. The Park now forms one of the residential quarters of Nottingham, the land being held on building leases from the Duke of Newcastle. Most of the old timber was cut down during the Civil Wars, and the last representatives of the great herds of deer of former times disappeared about 1720. But the visitor walking along the beautiful elm-shaded Lenton Road will admit the Park has been wonderfully restored by diligent planting. Fishpond Drive marks the site of the old ornamental lake still existing after the Dukes of Newcastle came in to possession. In this region of the Park are also some excavations in the rock which have excited much antiquarian interest.

Nottingham Caves.

The Park Caves are now situated in the private grounds of Mrs. J. W. Leavers, and cannot be visited without permission. That they were excavated in Roman times, as some have thought, is extremely improbable. On Stukeley's engraving, published in the seventeenth century, the site is marked of the chapel of "St. Mary-le-Roche." Godfrey+ considers it probable that the Monks of Lenton had a hermitage here, having obtained the chapel from their neighbours, the Carmelites. Caves abound in all directions in Nottingham wherever the sandstone rock comes to the surface, and have doubtless served for dwellings at all periods. The rock is easily worked by pick and shovel, and "getting sand" has often been pursued as a lucrative occupation. "Sneinton Hermitage" no longer exists, having been dismantled to make way for the new Great Northern Railway (see p. 31). Here bricks and mortar were saved by building the houses under and into an overhanging cliff, and many apartments in the rock used to be exhibited similar to those referred to above as existing in old houses under the Castle Rock. Needless to say that the "Forest Caves" now occupied by the Church Cemetery are reputed to have been the haunt of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men.