Children's artwork dispayed on walls of Conisbrough Castle for the first time since the 1980s after staff resurrect old project idea

A literacy charity has worked with English Heritage monument Conisbrough Castle to display local children's artwork on the walls of the keep for the first time in 40 years.

The banners now adorn the castle keep

Gavin Smithees, site manager of the Norman castle near Doncaster, came up with the idea after recalling a similar project that took place in the 1980s.

Designs and poems created by pupils from three local primary schools are now featured on three 20-metre banners that have been hung from the castle walls in partnership with the campaign Doncaster Stories, which is funded by the National Literacy Trust.

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Local writer Phil Sheppard held a workshop with the children, aged 7-11, and their poetry is inspired by the theme of hope to mark the end of lockdown.

Conisbrough Castle is unusual among English Heritage properties in that it sits in an area of significant socio-economic deprivation and is surrounded by former mining communities.

The banners will be in place until September.

Mr Smithees said: “We discovered some photographs from the 1980s with these huge banners that had been created by a local school and then draped down the castle walls. They looked amazing, so we were interested in recreating this effect. Meeting with Doncaster Stories, we started to come up with a plan to include poetry with the theme of hope becoming ever more fitting during these times.

"We are so impressed by the children’s work. The banners are going to look spectacular and the castle is now lit up at night, so they’ll look even more impressive around the clock.”

Project officer Phil Sheppard added: “The children’s creativity was astounding. We thought the theme of hope would really inspire them, especially given the turbulence of the last 18 months, and we were not wrong. The ideas, language and imagery in the children’s poetry really hit home, which can be seen in the finished poems. We can’t wait for them to be shared with the local community, showcased on the sides of the castle to be seen for miles around.”

Assistant principal at Morley Place Academy, one of the participating schools, Louise Wright said: “The children got so much out of the project - they worked so hard on their poetry and the results are incredibly inspiring. I am sure that the finished artwork will really stir a lot of emotions in the local community and the children will be rightly proud of their achievements. We were so happy to have the children’s work displayed in such a spectacular fashion. To have their work showcased in this way is very special and will be remembered for many years to come.”

Earlier this year, the keep at Conisbrough Castle was illuminated for the first time since the 1990s after Doncaster Council funded a new LED lighting system.