Princess Anne officially opened Lincoln Castle in Lincolnshire on Monday as the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta is marked throughout the country.
Lincoln Castle underwent an extreme makeover: Castle edition! The project cost close to £20 million and was completed in March 2015.
Unlike most renovations in which buildings are shuttered and closed to the public, the Lincoln Castle remained open for visitors to see the ongoing refit and refurbishment.
2015 is a significant completion date as it is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. A new underground vault was constructed for the copy of Magna Carta. The Lincoln Castle holds one of four copies in existence.
In 1215, after years of ineffective foreign strategies and substantial tax levies, England’s King John was close to witnessing a rebellion by his influential barons. After much debate, he agreed to Magna Carta.
Magna Carta is one of the most important documents in English history as it placed English sovereigns within the rule of law. It is also the basis of the United States Constitution and part and parcel of many modern day democracies.
The vault also contains a copy of the Charter of the Forest, which is considered by many to be more important than the Magna Carta. As Magna Carta dealt with Barons rights, the Charter of the Forest included some rights and protections for commoners against mistreatment from the monarchy.
“This is a real milestone moment for the project. The castle is the only place in the world where Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest can be seen together, and this phase of the improvements will give them the home they deserve. This will make the castle an attraction of international importance, bringing in many more visitors from near and far. And that’s good news for the local economy,” according to Councillor Nick Worth, City of Lincoln Council.
Besides the vault, the project went through numerous upgrades. Renovation of the Victorian and Georgian prisons, restoration of castle walls and towers, construction of a cinema, shop, cafe, digital interactive displays and interpretation centres are all part of the £20-million upgrade.
Lincoln Castle was a Roman fort built in AD 60. The Romans left Lincoln and Britain in AD 410. William the Conqueror constructed the current Lincoln Castle in 1068 on the site that was once the Roman fortress.
The castle contains two mottes – the Lucy Tower built in the 17th Century and a second tower constructed in the 19th Century. For over 900 years, Lincoln Castle was a court and prison. The prison was abandoned in 1878.
The castle is currently maintained by Lincolnshire County Council and is a scheduled ancient monument.
Only those winning by ballot were in attendance for today’s reopening.
Princess Anne toured the Magna Carta vault, Victorian prison and walked the castle walls before unveiling a plaque commemorating the event
Later on Monday, Anne was scheduled to visit Boston Stump for a service of dedication.