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A day in the past
Aydon Castle (Northumberland)
Member Name: anwar7
Aydon Castle (Northumberland)
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I really enjoy visiting ancient buildings and it was for this reason I took out a family membership to English heritage a few years ago. Aydon in Northumberland is one of my favourite places to visit. It is set in stunning countryside and gives me a real sense of history.
Where is it?
Aydon castle is situated 1 mile to the north east of Corbridge just of the B 6321. I suggest you use the AA route finder for the exact location. It is very well sign posted from all directions so is easy to find.
There are trains to Corbridge from Newcastle. The station is about 4 miles from Aydon castle. There are busses to Corbridge too although not to Aydon castle and you will have to walk the mile to the castle itself.
A potted history.
I am going to give you a quick history as I think it helps to get more from any visit. Aydon castle is not actually a castle but a fortified manor house dating from the 13th century. It was built by Robert De Reymes a wealthy Suffolk merchant in 1296.
When the manor was first built relations between England and Scotland were peaceful so the house was not fortified. The manor is situated next to the steep banks of the Cor burn on three sides and so was only really unprotected on one side.
Peace with Scotland did not last and by 1305 De Reymes began to fortify his home against the Scots. Battlements were added in addition to an outer curtain bailey wall.
Despite his best efforts to protect his home Aydon castle was captured and burnt by the Scots in 1315. The English won the castle back in 1317, but it again fell victim of Scottish raids in 1346. The raids and resulting damage bankrupted the De Reymes family and by the end of the 14th century the castle was being rented out. The castle was finally sold in 1541 to Sir Reynold Carnaby.The castle underwent a programme of improvements including new roofs, windows and fireplaces.
From the 17th century the castle became a peaceful farmhouse and it remained this way until 1966 when it was given to the ministry of works. Aydon castle is now owned by English heritage.
Aydon enjoys a beautiful setting surrounded by woods and stunning countryside. If you visit during the week you will probably have the place to yourself. There is a large grassy car park to the side of the castle. Parking is free. The castle entrance is just a very short walk from the car park.
The entrance is through an archway into the outer courtyard. Here you will find the small pay kiosk. The pay kiosk also doubles as a shop selling a very small selection of gifts and snacks. In the summer they sell delicious locally made ice cream.
In the outer courtyard you can see the remains of agricultural buildings. The curtain wall has holes visible from where the original wooden scaffolding would have been placed when the wall was being added. There are portaloos situated to the side of the outer courtyard. There is a large orchard to the side of the castle where you can pic nic.
In the middle courtyard you will notice the blocked up windows along the curtain wall. This is where guests would have been accommodated. It is also where the men at arms would have been lodged.
The inner courtyard contains the main building. There are battlements all around the roof with arrow slits. The large hall is reached via steep stone steps. The hall has stone window seats where you can enjoy the views!
There is a large kitchen with some original medieval fittings including a stone sink. Down the stairs is the lower hall with narrow arrow slits. There is a wonderful large fireplace with a rare 12th century chimney. There is great chamber also with a large fireplace. The latrine chamber has a chute and cupboards to see.
I suggest you walk around the path that's circles most of the building as this gives you different views of the castle.
Aydon castle is largely in tact and it is fascinating to see how the house has been altered and added to over the centuries. Although the castle is not large it is largely intact and has been restored to its original medieval appearance. There are lots of interesting features to explore at Aydon castle. My children seem to find something new every time we visit. I recommend you allow at least an hour to look around the castle.
I have tried to give you a taste of what's on offer but suggest you talk to the English Heritage staff to get the most out of you visit.
Although there is a shop it only sells a limited range of refreshments. I suggest you bring a pic nic and eat in the lovely orchard. I always pack a rug, as the grass can be damp.
Dogs are permitted here but must be kept on a lead. Aydon castle is only partly accessible to anyone using a wheelchair.
Aydon castle is open from April the 1st until September 30th.It is open from 10am until 5 pm on mondys, thursays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Adults pay £3.50 and children pay £ 1.80. There are concessions available, just ask!
Entry is free for English heritage members.
In the summer there are often re-enactments here, check the English heritage web site for details. Last summer we enjoyed an excellent day at Aydon. There was an archery demonstration with the opportunity for children to participate. The castle was occupied by a medieval lord and his household really making history come alive!
In addition to visiting Aydon I recommend you spend some time looking round the small town of Corbridge including the Roman town. Corbridge has some lovely cafes and a good selection of interesting small shops to explore.
Overall I really recommend you take time to visit Aydon if you have the chance, it is not listed as one of the best medieval manor houses in the country for nothing!
Summary: A fortified manor house .
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