Chillingham Castle | Kidadl

Chillingham Castle

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Please be aware of government guidelines before setting off.

Government Guidelines

  • Chillingham Castle is a medieval castle with a bloody and rich past, with royal visits and an active part in wars. It's still a family home to Sir and Lady Wakefield today.
  • Go through the many incredible rooms inside the castle, and see items that span across many eras of history.
  • Walk the stunning grounds, with gardens like the Italian Garden, and do some fishing in the lake.
  • Go on one of the incredible ghost tours to see the haunted spaces that have chilled guests for years.

Chillingham Castle is a 13th-century castle in Northumberland and is a Grade I listed building. Its been famed for action and battles, as well as an incredible ownership bloodline going back to the 1200s. It was the seat of the Grey and Bennett families from the 15th century until the 1980s, when Sir Edward Humphry Tyrrell Wakefield, 2nd Baronet and also known as just Sir Humphry, took over the home with his third wife Katherine, who is also a Grey. If you like castles like Alnwick Castle and The Alnick Garden, you'll also love Chillingham Castle.

The castle became the full Chillingham Castle in 1344; the Grey bloodline has remained in the castle almost always since. Many generals lived in the castle, including a record number of Knights of the Garter. However, there were also eight executions for high treason across the years of the castle. Often under attack, it was a strong defence in Northumberland during several wars, and many royal family members came to visit for hunting and staying close to Northumberland. Private visits happened up to the 21st century, so you can tell it's still a brilliant place to visit. The castle is still a medieval fortress with added Tudor features that would have been seen by King James VI. Sir Humphry's father, Sir Edward Wakefield, was both Treasurer and Comptroller of the Queen's Household, so there are still royal connections up to today.

Inside Chillingham Castle, there are 16 rooms you can visit. The Armoury has a display of weaponry from across periods, with guns and blow-pipes as two of the fascinating attractions available. In the Still Room, see the painting of the witch who has haunted thieves of the castle for many years. There are also photographs of Sir Humphry's Great Uncle Arthur 500 metres from the summit of Everest dressed in tweeds. You can compare the boots Sir Humphry used to Arthur's. The Dungeon is dark and deep, showing where inmates scratched the days into the wall, and the drop in the floor, leading to even darker and deeper chambers. The Torture Chamber has gruesome implements of punishment like a stretching rack, leg irons, nailed barrel and more. The Medieval Courtyard has the tomb of Sir Ralph Grey, and his wife, Elizabeth inside it to see, showing how the great people of the castle were honoured. The Chillingham Castle Great Hall was built for King James' visit, and many royals have been entertained ever since then. The Edward I room is the oldest state-room in Chillingham Castle. Lords would be safe and away from the smell of moats; you can also see a secret compartment where documents were hidden away. It used to be the most lavish room in the castle before some of the other state-rooms were created. To discover more family memorabilia, go to the Plaque Room Library. See paintings of the Chillingham Wild Cattle, photographs of visitors to the castle, and several books about the Wakefield family and their exploits outside of Chillingham Castle. The Chillingham Castle Museum has a mass of bits and pieces that couldn't be put anywhere else in the castle. See clocks, photographs, and other pieces from when Sir Edward Wakefield was Comptroller of the Royal Household. There's even more than that inside to discover.

The weapons in the Torture Chamber.

The Gardens and Grounds are fully open to the public almost all year. The garden is from 1828 and is a rare survivor of its time. It was designed by Sir Jeffry Wyatville, who also did the gardens at Windsor. The urns and statues are direct copies of the originals, and the famous herbaceous border is the longest in Northern England. You might able to spot some Wild cattle in the distance, as well as deer, red squirrels, and badgers inside the woodland. You can also enjoy the beautiful Italian Garden in the grounds. Walk around The Lakes and see the surrounding wildlife. You can also do some fly-fishing if you want to take home dinner.

Discover the ghosts that live in Chillingham Castle on one of the Chillingham Castle Ghost Tours. The castle boasts some of the highest paranormal activity in the country. On your Chillingham Castle Ghost Tour, you'll be guided through several haunted rooms to try and spots any of the ghosts that live there; you can try and see them in the day, but you're more likely to see the haunted forms at night. Just remember not to steal anything, so you aren't cursed! Tours are approximately 2 hours long, and you can even eat a meal in the Minstrels' Hall in front of a roaring log fire if you have a big group. You can also buy the ghost tour as a voucher, for a great haunted ghost gift.

If you're hungry, enjoy the Tea Room, home of handmade bread and cakes as well as delicious tea and coffee. After such a long day of tours, you'll enjoy the unique and rustic tastes here. The Percy Arms has tasty pub meals to enjoy in beautiful Northumberland. Doddington Dairy Milk Bar has a unique exterior, with an adorable cow poking out the door. The café also has tasty food to enjoy. The Milan Restaurant has gorgeous Italian food to try and is particularly luxurious to dine in.

What to know before you go

  • Chillingham Castle opening times are from 12pm to 5pm.
  • There is limited disabled access inside the castle due to its Grade I status.
  • Buggies will struggle in the castle.
  • Toilets on site can only be accessed by stairs.
  • Guide dogs can be used in the castle.
  • Baby changing facilities are in the toilets.
  • For history fanatics, there is the opportunity to stay overnight at Chillingham Castle.

Getting there

  • Chillingham Castle is clearly marked from the Alnwick/Berwick A1. Take the Chatton/Wooler road, a few hundred yards north of the Purdy Lodge/Bamburgh turn.
  • Free parking is signposted and accessible parking is adjacent.
  • For buses, you'll need to take the 470.
  • There aren't any trains nearby.

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