“ The castle was built during the first part of the 12th century on a hill overlooking a loop of the River Croquet. Opening hours for 2000 are April 1-September 30 daily 10-6, October 1-31 daily 10-5, Nov. 1-March 31 open 10am-1pm, 2-4pm daily. closed Dec. „
This is one of my favourite Northumbrian castles, and so, on our way home after having spent the weekend in Eyemouth, we decided to stop off and have a look around
The castle is ruined but reasonably preserved and is situated in Warkworth, Northumberland. It is well sign posted from the A1, so anyone wanting to visit should find it easily. There is a large pay and display car park just outside of the castle, and English Heritage members get this cost reimbursed.
**A bit of history...**
It was originally constructed as a wooden fortress, after the Norman Conquest and later ceded to the Percy family, who lived there on and off) until the 16th century. During this period the castle was rebuilt with sandstone walls and reinforced. The keep was added during the late 14th century.
The Percys sided against Elizabeth I in the Rising of the North which began in 1569 and Thomas Percy was executed in 1572 and the castle was pillaged by royal servants. The castle fell into long-term disrepair, then used as a source of building materials for other houses in the later 17th century. The castle remained a ruin until the mid-nineteenth century, when the third Duke of Northumberland undertook some preservation work and the fourth Duke excavated some of the older parts of the castle and re-roofed other areas.
In 1922 the 8th Duke of Northumberland handed the castle over to the Office of Works and now English Heritage owns the castle.
Visitors pay inside the small shop and it was here that we were given an audio tour each, so, because the tour starts outside the castle gates, we had to go back out and start again. The tour gave lots of interesting information such as the way the gates were defended- 2 drop down gates and then if invaders got through this, they were met with a barrage of stones. All very blood thirsty but the only bits of information I knew Little Miss would remember!
This main entrance led into the outer bailey which consists of an open area, about 40 metres square, and housing some of the castles buildings, namely the chapel, a hall, kitchens and stables. All in ruins but clearly signposted.
Our tour then took us to the castle keep which is like a castle within the castle. It is built on three main storeys and includes a great hall, chapel, kitchens, storerooms and various chambers. This was where the family resided and the audio tour gave lots of detail, but by this point, it was all getting confusing so I preferred to read the information boards rather than work out where I should be by listening to the audio tour. It was at this point that I kept losing Little Miss and Himself because they both seemed to be at different stages of the tour. The keep features lots of interesting features including some huge fire places but what always strikes me about castles is how cold they must have been even with the thick walls and big fire places.
The outer area has a large grassy area which Little Miss enjoyed exploring because there were other buildings including what looked like a small under ground storage area which formed a tunnel and a large lion tower (I think the lion symbolised the badge of the Percy family)
There is also a very small shop which we visited but didn't buy anything- sold the usual National Trust stuff and I think Little Miss has collected most of it over the years.
There is also a Hermitage close to the castle in which a holy man lived but on the day we visited there were no crossings- accessible only via boat.
**Opening times and entrance costs...**
Summer opening times seem to be 10 am till 5pm- I think these change in the winter months.
Free entrance for members of English Heritage. For non members the cost is £4.50 for an adult and £2.30 for a child, with extra costs for the hermitage
**Is it worth a visit?...**
I would definitely recommend this castle, not only because of the castle but Warkworth is also a very pretty village with some lovely walks along the river. Because it is not a complete ruin (seems mainly the roof is off!) we can get a real sense of life in a castle and it's possible to look at the drawings of the rooms and visualise it. However, the fact that it is still a ruined castle makes it a bit more magical. There is plenty of parking, nice areas to explore- lots of winding stairs and small corridors leading to what were the toilets.
A really good castle to visit- we enjoyed it even though it was freezing cold!!
Thanks for reading
On my recent visit to Northumberland which is not far from where I live, I took the time to visit some castles and places of interest which I had not been to for a few years, and Warkworth Castle was on my list of places to re-visit.
WHERE IS WARKWORTH CASTLE?
Warkworth Castle sits proudly on top of a hill overlooking the River Coquet in the historic village of Warkworth on the coast of Northumberland. Visitors in the springtime will see the hill covered with hundreds of daffodils.
As the River Coquet joins the sea, you will find this picturesque village and the nearby port of Amble, with its marina and braid. They are both lovely places to visit and can be combined into one day.
In the 12th century Warkworth was known as 'Werceworde' - that is the home of a woman called Werce, but its first entry in the history books was in 737 when Coelwulf, King of Northumbria, bestowed it to the monks of Lindisfarne.
Warkworth Castle is easily accessed from the A1, by turning off on to the A1068. It is approx 7.5 miles south of Alnwick.
The nearest train station is Alnmouth, 3.5 miles away. Buses run from Newcastle to Alnwick. (Arriva 518)
We drove into Warkworth, entering the village by the River Coquet and it looks really pretty as you look up to the top of the hill and see the castle. It is also very nice down beside the river.
Driving up the hill, through the village brings you to the entrance to the castle. There is a large green outside where you can park your car. You are now charged for parking your car, but if you are going into the castle, then you receive a reduction on the admission price.
There is a toilet block at the end of the car park, and the green itself is an ideal place for a picnic.
A LITTLE HISTORY
Warkworth Castle was constructed as a wooden fortress after the Norman conquest.
The history of the village and the castle are intertwined, and in 1332 the Percy family took over the castle, and during this time the castle was rebuilt with sandstone curtain walls and greatly reinforced. The Percy Lion is carved into the stone at several points around the castle.
The most famous of the Percy family were the first Earl of Northumberland and his son Harry Hotspur, the hero of many Border ballads as the bane of the Scots raiders, and also a dominant character in Shakespeare's Henry IV. Three of the scenes in Henry IV Part 1 are set in Warkworth.
The powerful Percy family were responsible for putting Henry IV on the throne, but later conspired against him.
Harry Hotspur was killed at the battle of Shrewsbury in 1403 and Henry came North and took Warkworth.
THE CASTLE TODAY
Today Warkworth Castle is in the care of English Heritage, and the impressive 15th century keep, which is still roofed and almost complete, together with the courtyard, is one of the finest preserved examples in the country.
The keep is almost like a castle within a castle, and has three floors containing a hall, chapel, kitchen and storerooms. It is accessed via a wide staircase, and there is plenty to see as you are free to wander throughout. There were a few children there during my visit and they seemed to be having a great time exploring the keep and pretending they were soldiers!
The other two sections are the inner and outer bailey.
The inner bailey is bordered on the south side by the collegiate church, and to the east and west by the curtain walls. There is a separate building which once was home to the brewery and the laundry.
The main entrance leads into the outer bailey which consists of an open area bounded by some of the castle's internal buildings. Across the northern boundary of the bailey is the collegiate church, and access to northern parts of the castle is via a tunnel underneath the church.
One of the most impressive things about the castle is the entrance, which is over a drawbridge across a moat. I feel that part of the reason the castle is so appealing to both adults and children alike, is because the castle sits on top of a hill surrounded by a moat. I always remember drawing castles as a child and always drew a moat around them!
I also studied Shakespeare's Henry IV Part 1 for my English Literature O'Level when I was at school, and my visit brought back some memories of this. I couldn't help but think I wished I had visited the castle back then, it may have helped me with my course work!
Warkworth was described by Shakespeare as 'this worm-eaten hold of ragged stone, where Hotspur's father, old Northumberland, lies craft-sick'.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the castle, it was well worth the admission price as there is so much to see, and the views both from the castle, and also looking up to the castle from the River Coquet are beautiful. I would recommend a walk around the castle walls and also a walk down by the river below.
There is a small shop inside the castle for souvenirs and information. There is access for the disabled, but it is quite limited. Dogs are restricted to certain areas only and must be kept on a leash.
OPENING TIMES AND PRICES
The castle is open every day from 1st April - 1st November from 10 am - 5pm (please note it closes an hour earlier at 4pm from 1st Oct - 1st Nov).
From 2nd Nov - 31st March the castle is open on Sat, Sun and Mon 10am -4pm.
The Duke's Rooms in the castle keep are open on Wed, Sun and bank Holidays from 1st April - 30th Sept.
The castle is closed from 24th-26th Dec and also 1st Jan.
Entrance is free for members of English Heritage. The admission prices for non-members are £4.20 for adults and £2.10 children. There is also a concession price of £3.60.
Family tickets are available priced at £10.50.
There is also a 15% discount for groups of 11 or more, plus a free place for every additonal 20 visitors.
Audio tours for the visually or hearing impaired visitors are available.
Please remember that the cost of car parking will be refunded upon admission to the castle.
Tel. 01665 711423