Northumberland Castles

Northumberland Castles

Chillingham Castle

Northumberland CastlesLocated less than 7 miles from Chevy Chase Cottage, Chillingham Castle is said to be the UK’s most haunted castle and is one of the most popular Northumberland Castles. The castle was originally a monastery built in the 12th century. The castle was of huge strategic importance during medieval times as it was located on the border between England and Scotland and used by the English army as a staging post before entering Scotland. The castle was also repeatedly attacked by the Scottish armies and other raiding forces that were heading south.

In 1344 the building underwent major enhancements which upgraded the stronghold to a fortified castle.

James I, the first king of both England and Scotland stayed at the castle in 1617 as relations between the two countries cooled following the union of the crowns. The castle was eventually transformed, the moat that had existed around the castle was filled in, battlements were converted into residential wings and a library and banquet hall were added.

During WW2 the castle was used as an army barracks and after the war ended the castle fell into a state of disrepair. In 1980 the castle was bought by Sir Humphry Wakefield  who began restoration of the castle.

Visit the official site to see when the castle is open to the public: Chillingham Castle

Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh CastleBamburgh Castle is located on the Northumberland coast less than 15 miles from the self catering accommodation in Wooler and one of the most famous Northumberland Castles. The foundations for the castle were laid in 547 AD by Ida The Flamebearer who had a wooden fort built. In 610 AD the fort was replaced by by a royal palace and church before the Vikings destroyed much of the castle in 993 AD. In 1066 the base was used by the Normans for their forays into Scotland. The Norman’s built a new castle on the site which forms the core of the present castle. Bamburgh then became property of the reigning English monarch Henry II who is thought to have had the keep built. In 1464 it became the first castle in England to be defeated by artillery after a nine month siege by Richard Neville during the War of the Roses.

The Forster family of Northumberland provided 12 successive governors of the castle lasting some 400 years until the Crown eventually granted ownership to Sir John Forster. In 1700 Sir William Forster was posthumously declared bankrupt, and his estates were sold to Lord Crew.

The castle deteriorated but was restored during the 18th and 19th centuries by various owners before finally being bought by William Armstong, the castle still remains in the hands of the Armstrong family today.

Visit the official site to see when the castle is open: Bamburgh Castle

Northumberland Castles

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick CastleLocated 19 miles from Chevy Chase Cottage, Alnwick Castle is one of the most famous Northumberland Castles and in recent years has become a tourist attraction for Harry Potter fans as this was the castle used to create ‘Hogwarts’.

The castle was first mention in the year 1136 when it was captured by King David I of Scotland.

For the past 700 years (since 1309) the Percy family have owned the castle, it is currently the second largest inhabited castle behind only Windsor.

The most famous member of the Percy family was Harry ‘Hospur’ Percy who went into battle with the Scots while still teenager. Harry would become immortalised by William Shakespeare in his play Henry IV.

Visit the official site to see when the castle is open: Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Gardens is just a short walk from the castle, the opening times of the gardens can be found here at Alnwick Gardens.

Dunstanburgh Castle

Dunstanburgh CastleLocated 25 miles from Wooler, Dunstanburgh Castle lies on spectacular headland on the coast of Northumberland. The castle site is the largest of the Northumberland Castles and shows traces of earlier occupation than 1313, the year the castle started building work by the Earl of Lancaster.

One of the castles in Northumberland not to play a significant role in the border warfare with the Scots. During the War of th Roses the Lancastrians held the castle and damage that was done was never repaired. The castle steadily fell into decay over the next century and was robbed of its stone for buildings in other places.

The last owner of the castle was Sir Arther Sutherland who donated the castle in 1929 to the Ministry of Works. The castle in now in the hands of the National Trust and is a Grade I listed building.

For opening times see the National Trust Dunstanburgh Castle site.

Northumberland Castles

Eldingham Castle

Eldingham CastleEldingham Castle is the smallest of the Northumberland Castles and located 15 miles from Chevy Chase Cottage and is now no more than ruins. The first castle dates back to around 1295 when William de Felton built a fortified hall on the land.  His son, also called William, inherited the hall in 1328 and began to turn the hall into a castle by adding a gatehouse, tower, keep and curtain wall.

In 1396 the last de Felton died and the castle passed to the Swinburnes who remodelled the castle as a fortified manor house and held the property until the 18th century. During this time the smallest of the  Northumberland Castles fell into disrepair with much of the building was dismantled to build nearby farmhouses in the 1660’s.

Today, only the the base of the curtain wall and gatehouse still stand and is the care of English Heritage. The castle ruin is open to the public at all times and admission is free.