When it’s packaged and presented well there’s no end of interest – witness the latest chapter of the Richard III saga.
Now, all roads are leading to an exciting new historic focus that’s grabbing national attention, so set the sat-nav for the market town of Newark-on-Trent, home of the excellent National Civil War Centre.
We’ve probably all passed Newark heading north and south without having a good enough reason to stop and visit.
Not any more.
The £5.4m National Civil War Centre has must visit written all over it and there’s not a more appropriate location.
Newark was a staunchly Royalist town and played a pivotal role during the Civil Wars, fought across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland between 1638 and 1652.
The town survived three sieges by the Parliamentarians, the third lasting six months during 1645-46 and causing terrible suffering. It only surrendered, to a Scots army, when ordered to do so by Charles 1.
At the end of 14 years of bloody conflict in which brother had fought brother and fathers fought sons, a once all powerful monarch who ruled by Divine Right, lost his kingdom and then his head.
Throughout it all Newark was always in the thick of things.
National Civil War Centre Director, Michael Constantine said: “Newark’s capitulation signalled the end of what is often called the First Civil War – within three years King Charles was executed by Parliament.
“It is an extraordinary tale, reflecting both the bitterness, despair and bravery of the conflict.
When the Royalists initially debated their King’s order to surrender Newark, the defiant Mayor said it was better to ‘Trust in God and Sally Forth.’ This is still remembered today and has become the town’s motto.”
The National Civil War Centre will again put Newark right at the heart of the action, this time unfolding the story of the conflict in a beautiful museum setting and providing a Town Trail App that will bring the Civil War’s turbulent times to life.
Downloading the app (available on Google Play and from the iTunes App store – search for the National Civil War Centre Trail) will enable visitors to trigger images at key civil war locations around Newark.
Characters will leap into life on screen to relate their own stories, whether it’s the servant girl moaning about meagre rations, a man lamenting the devastation caused by plague, or King Charles quarrelling with his ablest lieutenant, Prince Rupert.
The National Civil War Centre itself, is located in the atmospheric Old Magnus Building that started life as a 15th-century Tudor grammar school.
Michael Constantine, is intent on delivering a visitor experience that’s visually sumptuous, educational and entertaining. “The civil war story is laid out over several levels and there’s plenty to do as well as see.
“You can pick up a musket and try it on for size and use digital interactive video to enhance information provided at display points. Modern technology will help tell a story that’s long overdue,” he added.
Added visitor value comes with complementary historic displays including the magnificent Newark Torc, an Iron Age gold alloy neck-piece found by a metal detectorist on the outskirts of the town in 2005, an Anglo-Saxon gold cross and Byron’s printing press.
The National Civil War Centre was 10 years in the making and, as a likely addition to the UK’s history museum sector’s A-list, is expected to attract up to 60,000 visitors a year.