UK Travel Guide


Chillingham Castle

Description: The Castle stands on the site of a 7th Century Saxon monastery and the single tower was used by Thomas de Heton around 1344 to start the work on the castle. Just 100 years later it was granted a Royal Licence to crenellate. It was duly strengthened and transformed to provide the usual domestic accommodation, and a stone wall was erected for protection. Work was continued by his successors, building a Castle of the quadrangular plan, with a gatehouse and corner towers. In 1387 the Castle was held by Alan de Heton when it was attacked by Sir Henry Heton, William Lilburn and Robert Manners who took the Castle and locked Alan in a tower. The King ordered his release, but the Castle's occupiers refused. A force led by Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland and John Neville arrived at Chillingham but it is unclear what happened except that Alan de Heton didn't survive. In 1536 the Castle was attacked and the opportunity was taken thereafter to rebuild it. Between 1558 and 1625 the Castle was reconstructed again to make it more habitable. The entrance to the castle was transferred to the north curtain wall, and the southern part of the courtyard was rebuilt with decorative pillars. Yet more rebuilding was undertaken in the early-mid 1700s, providing a central stairway from the courtyard to the upper level of the castle, and the east range was completely remodelled by the second Earl of Tankerville. The last major works at Chillingham Castle were carried out around the middle of the 19th century when a new service wing was constructed, and the castle grounds were laid out, including the creation of the Italian garden. After 1933 the castle stood decaying and neglected until Sir Humphrey Wakefield and Lady Mary Grey took over the estate and began the enormous task of restoring it back to the ancestral home of the Grey family. Having first secured Chillingham Castle in 1246, the Greys are no doubt proud of the fact that they are once again connected with such a significant part of their ancestral history. There are reputed to be many ghosts at Chillingham Castle.
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Notes: The castle is open to the public Easter - 30th September (Closed Tuesdays) 12.00am - 5.00pm. Open 7 days a week July and August, or by special arrangement. More details can be obtained by telephoning 01668 215359. Holiday accomodation is also available at the castle.