With a history spanning over a thousand years, this small castle holds a wealth of tales - from opulent royal feasts to a rather unflattering description of 'a nasty stinking place' by George Fox, the Quakers’ founder. Today, it stands as a popular visitor attraction, beloved venue for festivals and so much more.
English Heritage entrusted us, following a successful tender, to transform the internal exhibition space, revamp outdoor interpretation, and create engaging content for a growing family audience.
Working with a diverse team of specialists including historians, interpreters and craftspeople, we embarked on an ambitious journey to rejuvenate the castle’s spaces and provide visitors with a refreshed engaging experience.
We began by redesigning the interior exhibition, prioritising accessibility and engagement. Visitors can now explore exhibits at their own pace, while practical considerations like object cases and storage space for the site team were integrated seamlessly.
Inside, the wall displays were organised chronologically, with many captivating objects on display for the first time such as a whale vertebrae. To engage younger visitors we introduced Rupert, the castle’s feline mascot, and a ‘build your own castle’ activity, made by a local craftsperson. Two interpretation frames were designed to be easily updated by staff in order to keep content fresh.
Outside, we refreshed panels in the new brand style, featuring engaging content, including poetry by local artist Charles Cawsley.
Within the Keep, we introduced subtle hints at what the space may have been used for in the past. It was important not to damage any of the scheduled monument so we had lavastone plaques laid into the floor material.
Time and again, visitors say their highlight is climbing to the lookout from the top of the tower. We designed a toposcope to make sense of the impressive 360º views across Dartmoor, Bodmin Moor and beyond and to add depth to understanding of what could be seen.
The new interpretation, unveiled in July 2022, garnered widespread acclaim. The exhibition’s whale bone earned national press attention, and visitors now praise the enhanced experience, solidifying the castle’s status as a must-visit historical gem in Cornwall.
Photographs used with kind permission from: Emily Whitfield-Wicks, Nick Collinson, both for English Heritage. Additional photos © The Way Design.
The Way Design were absolutely great to work with. Their creative response to the brief was well considered, picking up on the necessity of involving the community in the project... The overall result is a beautiful museum display in a very small space, which is accessible to all, a family-friendly panel scheme, and some unique elements in the castle keep. I wouldn’t hesitate in working with them again – their professionalism and communication was second to none.