Build them up to knock them down

Lost Castles - Liverpool 2018

CASTLES and a Viking church will be brought to life in huge cardboard form as Liverpool City Region gets creative together for a unique arts project.

Lost Castles is the first cultural project involving all six boroughs which will see hundreds of volunteers work with renowned French artist Olivier Grossetȇte to create monumental structures out of cardboard boxes, based on medieval forts or historic structures which were in the region at one time.

Construction will begin on site for Liverpool, Wirral and Sefton on Thursday 9 August, and Knowsley, St Helens and Halton will be on site from Friday 10 August. Once the creations are completed, a programme of family-friendly free activities will take place on Saturday (11 August) ranging from street theatre, storytelling, falconry displays, live music and even appearances by a dragon or two!

Communities are encouraged to come together once again on Sunday (12 August) to topple the structure.

Many of the cardboard buildings are expected to tower over 20metres high, with each borough using their own heritage as inspiration:


What is being built? Located in Williamson Square, a castle will be built inspired by Liverpool Castle which stood at the top of modern day Lord Street, and is thought to have been built early in the 13th Century – around 1230.

What to expect on Saturday From midday to 6pm, expect a fairy-tale themed programme which will see knights in shining armour, juggling and stilt walking jesters, princes, princesses, kings, queens and a dragon to entertain the crowds. There will be storytelling to keep the family entertained throughout the day along with live music supplying a medieval soundtrack to the activities.

What time is it being toppled on Sunday? 5pm


What is being built? In Ashton Park West Kirby, a Viking stave church will be built to celebrate Wirral’s unique Viking history and Norse connections. The area is thought to have been almost a Viking state in its own right with its own borders, customs, trading point and language. Come and see how our shipbuilding ancestors might have lived, worked and worshipped in the heart of West Kirby (Norse for ‘the West Village of the Church’).

What to expect on Saturday The cardboard stave church will provide a spectacular backdrop for free Viking-themed activities from 11am to 3.30pm with demonstrations, led by real-life Vikings, Wirhalh Skip Felagr. See stunning birds of prey take to the skies, with flying displays by Cheshire Falconry. There will also be a selection of food and drink to make it a fun day out for all the family.

What time is it being toppled on Sunday? Midday – and before the demolition starts, why not take part in a relaxing Sunday morning stretch in front of the stave church. Yogasmiths will be holding a free 90 minute yoga class (9.30-11am). Bring your own mat if you have one.


What is being built? Celebrating the Elizabethan and Jacobean heritage of Knowsley, this structure will take inspiration from Elsinore Castle which features in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  It will be constructed at the entrance of Knowsley Safari.

What to expect on Saturday Hamlet’s Castle of Cosmic Creatures will come to life around the walls of the castle. Expect entertainment from the castle’s jester; and gaze at the black raven while it flies around the castle grounds. Greet the giant Elizabethan puppets as they roam and watch in awe as two giant smoke breathing Dragons swoop and soar!

Cardboard inspired craft workshops will keep children entertained and performances from local choirs and musicians will celebrate the rich culture, heritage and history of Elizabethan Knowsley, all against the backdrop of the cardboard castle built entirely by local people.

What time is it being toppled on Sunday? 4pm


What is being built? Norton Priory will be hosting a construction inspired by Halton Castle, a medieval ruin a mile and a half away in Halton village. The castle is believed to have originated as a motte and bailey during the early Norman campaigns in the north of England but this re-imagining of the castle will reflect the imposing 15th century gatehouse when the fortress was at its zenith. The artwork will feature near to Norton Priory’s own medieval ruins, a fitting parallel as the histories of the two complexes were intertwined throughout the Middle Ages.

What to expect on Saturday Visitors can hear the tales of St George, face a terrifying giant dragon, be entertained by a juggler and meet villagers to find out about life in medieval times. Children can also build a mini sandcastle and enjoy crafts in the museum. The event includes free admission to Norton Priory Museum & Gardens. Activities take place 11am to 4pm.

What time is it being toppled on Sunday? 3pm. Elements of the castle will be retained for the following weekend’s (18th and 19th August) spectacular medieval re-enactment. Fully armoured knights will clash in fearsome combat, levelling their crude but effective siege weapons at the surviving walls, returning our ‘lost castle’ to rubble and ruin.

St Helens

What is being built? In Victoria Square (near the Town Hall), St Helens Council and local arts organisation the Heart of Glass will see Stuttgart Old Castle partially recreated and built to commemorate the 70th twinning anniversary between St Helens and the German city of Stuttgart – which was the first post-war twinning to take place between a British and German town.

What to expect on Saturday On Victoria Square, St Helens will be embracing the medieval theme of its 10th century castle design, with a range of medieval street performers from Fool’s Paradise. Between 11am and 3pm expect knights in shining armour, stilt-walkers and comediennes Damsels in Distress entertaining the crowds. At 1pm, there’ll be a performance by the Valley Brass Band. On Church Square, the In The Street event is taking place as part of the St Helens 150 celebrations. Presented by the Citadel in partnership with Heart of Glass and St Helens Council, In the Street is a day of interactive pop up performances, mini festivals, installations and workshops for all the family to enjoy. It features children’s entertainment with the Artful Playground Band; The Vegetable Nannies, based on CBeebies’ Mr Bloom’s Nursery; and Dommy B from BBC’s Rhyme Rocket.

Families can enter The Actual Reality Arcade, a life-sized interactive game zone inspired by classic video games; vintage jazz band The Black Sheikhs will be on stilted legs to entertain with their 20s style jazz interpretations of contemporary hits; and the brand-new St Helens Youth Theatre will be presenting a very special performance celebrating 150 years of St Helens.

All events are free.

What time is it being toppled on Sunday? 2pm


What is being built? Bootle Castle, also known as Miller’s Castle, will be recreated in North Park, along with two nearby Bootle landmarks – the obelisks which in the 1800s acted as a navigation point for ships entering the Mersey.

What to expect on Saturday A seaside theme will be reflected in the programme developed by The Atkinson and will include live music, outdoor theatre, arts and crafts, a fairground and food and drink concessions.

What time is it being toppled on Sunday? 1pm

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Creative Director Olivier Grossetȇte, said: “It has been a pleasure to research the history of the six boroughs and I hope my designs do the heritage of each area justice.

“It is always so rewarding to work on a project which brings together a community in producing a unique piece of art which reflects where they live. Pride is felt by everyone involved when the structures are complete and each will stand-out proudly from their surroundings. And then of course there is the fun of the demolition at the end! Within hours it is like the castles never existed and it was just a wonderful dream.”

The project has been made possible thanks to support from Arts Council England and is supported by the City Region Combined Authority, and the Global Streets Strategic Touring Programme which aims to bring the very best international outdoor art to towns and cities.

All the cardboard will be responsibly recycled after the event.