On Thursday 5 September 2019, the doors were opened to a brand new exhibition titled The World Turned Upside Down at Newark's National Civil War Centre.
Lord Charles Spencer, the 9th Earl Spencer, officially opened the new exhibition at an exclusive preview evening on Wednesday 4 September 2019. Lord Spencer enjoyed a private tour of the new galleries led by the Centre's curator Glyn Hughes, before addressing attendees including local dignitaries, academics and history enthusiasts with an insightful speech about the Civil War.
During his speech, Lord Spencer commented:
'I've always been interested in the Civil War, passionately so. I think it is, probably, the most important part of our nation's history and I think it's fantastic that you in Newark have recognised this by having a National Civil War Centre.'
Lord Spencer went on to share his passion and enthusiasm for the Centre:
'I really think you've got a gem here, I think it's going to grow and grow in importance what you have started here and adding exhibitions such as the one I've just seen is only going to add lustre to the reputation of Newark.'
In talking about the new exhibition at the Centre Lord Spencer said it offers, 'a very clever balance of the story, of the big things that happened during the Civil War along with the way that ordinary people had to just survive, keep their families going and somehow keep everything moving along while this incredible thing was exploding in the background, the Civil War.'
The exhibition looks at the extraordinary transformation that came about during and following the Civil War. Re-building society after such a dramatic breakdown opened the door to a chance at revolution, and the chaos of war left a remarkable opportunity for creativity in its wake. This 'World Turned Upside Down' is the namesake and focus of the permanent exhibition which explores the 17th century's seismic shifts in religion, science, culture and politics. Visitors can discover just what happened to turn the world from right way up to 'upside down'; what it would have been like to be plunged into the mayhem of war and emerge into an unfamiliar landscape; and how the pyramid of power shifted from the God-chosen King on top... to Charles' head on the ground.
The exhibition's interactive elements were a highlight for many guests at the launch who enjoyed trying out some 17th century battlefield surgery on a realistic wounded arm, practising spycraft with a cipher wheel and even listening to some popular ballads from the 1600s. Some of the fascinating exhibits include a genuine piece of the sash King Charles I wore to his execution, Oliver Cromwell's hat and sword and a bible box which, when opened, spouts messages from religious sects of the period.
In attendance at the launch event were Councillor David Lloyd, Leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council, Councillor Rob Crowe, Chairman of Newark and Sherwood District Council and Councillor Rita Crowe. Councillor David Lloyd commented:
'The new permanent exhibition at the National Civil War Centre has been years in the making and one that adds a huge amount of interest to anyone visiting the Centre. The exhibition looks at what life was like during the mayhem of war and then how that transformed the world from right way up to upside down. It is a huge privilege to have such a fantastic local facility in Newark and I hope that many residents will enjoy the new exhibition as much as I did.'
The new exhibition is located in two galleries on the third floor of the National Civil War Centre. Further Civil War galleries and the Newark Museum are located on the first floor whilst the fifth floor hosts another new exhibition (opened July 2019) titled Fake News which exposes the 'Fake News' phenomenon as a centuries-old tradition.