Castle display for cannon is blocked

ENGLISH Heritage has refused to allow a cannon found by divers off the Suffolk coast to be displayed inside a castle.Stuart Bacon was hoping that a cannon seized from under his nose by the Royal Armouries in a Suffolk village could at long last be returned and take up a new home inside a castle.

ENGLISH Heritage has refused to allow a cannon found by divers off the Suffolk coast to be displayed inside a castle.

Stuart Bacon was hoping that a cannon seized from under his nose by the Royal Armouries in a Suffolk village could at long last be returned and take up a new home inside a castle.

Mr Bacon wanted English Heritage to give permission for the bronze 16th Century cannon to be put on display in Orford Castle, near Woodbridge.

The cannon had been recovered by Mr Bacon, director of Suffolk Underwater Studies Unit, and a team of divers from off Dunwich Bank. It was then placed outside his craft shop in Front Street, Orford, and stayed there for several years until it was controversially cut from its chains and taken away to Fort Nelson at Portsmouth nearly three years ago.


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The Royal Armouries look after the nation's historic collections of arms, armour and cannon, and it claimed the gun was not secure or properly conserved in Orford and the weapon would not be returned until a suitable venue was found.

An English Heritage spokesperson said yesterday: ''The cannon which was found does not have any historical connection with the castle. It is a naval cannon whereas Orford Castle is a land fort which would have had land cannons.

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''All our collections have historical connections to our properties to retell the stories of our properties. We try to be as authentic as possible and it would go against our policy to have extra material that does not have any link.''

Mr Bacon said: ''English Heritage has taken over marine archaeology and I would have thought they would have welcomed the cannon. It would appear that the Royal Armouries would be happy to let it go to English Heritage at the castle.

''I would be happy to have the bronze gun at the castle. I have checked where it could go and I can see no reason why the gun cannot go in the castle.''

He still receives daily inquiries from visitors wanting to know what has happened to the cannon and later this week there will be another cannon taking up residence outside his shop.

This is an iron gun from the 18th Century brigantine Hanover which struck rocks in Cornwall with the loss of more than 60 crew. Mr Bacon said there should be no argument over his right to display the weapon. ''The Royal Armouries are not interested in iron guns, they are ten a penny. To put it in perspective, an iron gun would fetch between £200 and £400, whereas a bronze gun would go for £15,000 to £30,000,'' he added.

Mr Bacon has a survey licence for the Dunwich wreck which allows his divers to survey the wreck. But he is still trying to obtain an excavation or a surface recovery licence to allow him to bring more bronze cannons to the surface. It is the only known wreck site in the UK where bronze cannons are still in situ.

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