England boasts some of the world’s most enchanted places. However, there are not so many with a history shrouded in mystery such as the Chillingham Castle.
Just as the name suggests, this is not a castle you would want to visit if you are not prepared to make some reconnection with your spiritualism.
This post shall go in details on everything you need to know about this castle. In the end, you will discover why it remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in Northeastern England.
The Chillingham Castle is located in the Chillingham village in the northern region of Northumberland. It is a medieval castle that has changed occupants from the time it was built.
The first documented families to have occupied this castle was the Grey & the Bennet families. These families occupied it between the 15th Century up until the 1980s. Sir Humphry-Wakefield Bt. would later assume occupancy of the castle, along with his family.
This Grade-1 listed-building also plays home to around 90 heads of the Chillingham Cattle. This is a rare cattle breed.
History of The Chillingham Castle
Back in the 12th Century, the castle was originally used as a monastery. In 1298, the castle hosted one of the most high-profile officials in those times – King Edward-I. Edward-1 used the castle while traveling to Scotland to face off with the Scottish army that was then under the command of William Wallace. In order to make his stay comfortable at the Chillingham Castle, a glazed window was installed. The window stands even today as one of the rarest features of the castle.
One of the reasons the castle became popular in medieval times was its location. Sitting between 2 feuding nations, English armies preparing to enter Scotland used it as a staging post. However, it was never safe from attacks. The Scottish army frequently besieged and attacked it, sometimes forcing the occupants to flee. So as to ward off attackers, a moat was constructed around the castle. Also, it was fortified in some sides, with fortifications rising as high as 12 feet.
As the Chillingham played a major military base, it was only natural that its security is enhanced. In 1344, King Edward-III issued a Licence to fortify it. This added even more fortification to a castle that was already feared by enemy forces. The castle was then built into a quadrangular form, the very shape it has retained to date.
There are many other notable people that stayed on this castle. This includes Anne of Denmark, along with her children who stayed here as they were traveling to London on June 6th, 1603. Also, James1st stayed in Chillingham Castle in 1617. James1st is remembered for his success in unifying Scotland and England. As the castle lied between these two kingdoms, he found it a more convenient base from which to operate. As the years went by, these two traditionally-feuding nations became less hostile to each other. Therefore, the castle was demilitarized and structures such as the moat were filled. Also, battlements were then converted into residential units. Ultimately, a library and banquet wall was built.
The castle grounds witnessed amazing landscaping work in 18th and the 19th centuries. This amazing work was done by Sir Jeffry-Wyattville. From then on, the castle became a point of interest for those that wished to learn a thing or two about its medieval historical and military significance. However, the castle would later reconvert to a military base during the Second World-War. As expected, the soldiers that were billeted there did quite some damage to its decorations. After the war, not much attention was given to renovating the Chillingham Castle and it gradually went into a state of disrepair.
In 1982, however, the castle once again fell in the ownership of someone with a keen interest in preserving history. After purchasing the castle, Sir Humphry-Wakefield embarked on a thorough renovation and restoration process. And since his wife, Catherine, was descended from the Greys, the family had a deep sentimental attachment to the castle. This gave them even more impetus to have the facility restored for heritage preservation.
What’s So Chilly About The Castle?
The Chillingham Castle has had its fair share of ghostly narrations. Indeed, current owners are trying to market it as one of the most-haunted castles ever to have existed in Britain. There are many ghostly stories that have been told. The scariest one of them all is that of a radiant boy. This ghost is believed to have haunted the castle’s Pink Room.
Radiant boy manifested himself in a blue halo of light, scaring guests to death. He would often be seen flickering around their bedtime in the dead of night. The radiant boy was also characterized by his trademark wails. However, these ghostly sightings ended after the renovation. When the restoration processes ended, a man as well as a young boy were discovered in a 3-meter wall. Other discoveries within the wall included documents that dated as far back as the Spanish Armada.
What’s The Best Time To Visit And What’s There To See?
The Chillingham Castle is usually open daily between 12 noon and 5:00 Pm. The castle was officially opened on the 3rd of April 2017 to day visitors.
Chillingham boasts an amazing car park so you can easily travel with your family or friends. As soon as you enter the main gates, you will see Free-Parking signposted. The disabled can access their parking that’s right next to the castle. However, the renovators seemed to not have had the interests of the disabled in mind. If you have mobility problems, you will find the uneven floors quite challenging. Even more challenging are the castles steep, spiral staircases. It gets worse when you need to access washrooms as there are spiral stone-steps built with a rope handrail to negotiate. But there is a saving grace. Even though they do not allow dogs, guide, and assistance dogs are allowed.
Apart from these disability-related challenges, there is so much to see and do in the castle.
There is a tour guide in the castle whose job is to fill you in on the history and significance of the castle. You will be guided on a room-by-room basis. And if you wish to have a head start, you can purchase a copy of these guides at £2.50.
You will find the log fires quite resourceful, especially if visiting during chilly weather. Additionally, the castle serves delectable home-made dishes such as bacon, sandwich, and cakes. Toilets are available too, as are baby changing spots.
In terms of pricing, adults pay £9.50 while concessions cost £8.50. Children between 5 and 15 years pay £5.50 while children under 5 enter free of charge. However, underage children must be under the supervision of adults. A family ticket [usually comprising of 2 adults and as many as 3 children] costs £23.00.
The Chillingham Castle is a hidden gem of historical and military significance. It also has its fair share of spiritual encounters. Head on to the castle and uncover some of England’s most hidden secrets.