Chillingham Castle turned out to be my favourite place to have visited last year, and also the worst experience (of which more later).
The History bit
Chillingham Castle is a medieval castle in the village of Chillingham, Northumberland; in the northern part of Northumberland, England. It was the seat of the Grey and Bennet families from the 15th century until the 1980s when it became the home of Sir Humphry Wakefield Bt., who is married to a member of the original Grey family. The castle was originally a monastery in the late 12th century. In 1298, King Edward I stayed at the castle on his way to Scotland to battle a Scottish army led by William Wallace. A glazed window in a frame was specially installed for the king, a rarity in such buildings at the time. The castle occupied a strategically important location in medieval times: it was located on the border between two feuding nations. It was used as a staging post for English armies entering Scotland, but was also repeatedly attacked and besieged by Scottish armies and raiding parties heading south. The site contained a moat, and in some locations the fortifications were 12 feet (3.7 metres) thick.
The building underwent a harsh series of enhancements, and in 1344 a Licence to crenellate was issued by King Edward III to allow battlements to be built, effectively upgrading the stronghold to a fully fortified castle, of quadrangular form.
In 1617, James I, the first king of both England and Scotland, stayed at the castle on a journey between his two kingdoms. As relations between the two countries became peaceful following the union of the crowns, the need for a military stronghold in the area declined. The castle was gradually transformed; the moat was filled, and battlements were converted into residential wings. A banquet hall and a library were built.
In the 18th and 19th century the grounds underwent landscaping, including work carried out by Sir Jeffry Wyattville. The once extensive park, now under a separate ownership from the castle, is home to the famous Chillingham Wild Cattle.
During the Second World War, the castle was used as an army barracks. During this time, much of the decorative wood is said to have been stripped out and burned by the soldiers billeted there. After the war, the castle began to fall into disrepair. Lead had been removed from the roof, resulting in extensive weather damage to large parts of the building. In 1982, the castle was purchased by Sir Humphry Wakefield, 2nd Baronet, whose wife Catherine is descended from the Greys of Chillingham, and Wakefield set about a painstaking restoration of the castle.
He’s also filled it with weird and wonderful bits and bobs, so many photo’s to come.
This is the greeting just as you leave the car park to get up to the castle!
lovely woodland walk from the carpark to the castle.
View from the castle entrance
In the entrance hall
In the courtyard
and in the dungeon