Saturday, 16 March 2013

Newton by the Sea

Newton by the Sea

Low Newton by the Sea is situated between Dunstanborough and Beadnell on the Northumberland coast.  It is almost completely owned by the National trust and has a small open-ended square of cottages overlooking miles of unspoilt beach. The village itself is an 18th Century fishing village boasting a pub, the ‘Ship Inn’, which reputedly dates back to the 1700’s.   St Mary's church, which dates from the end of the 19th century, is situated on the outskirts of the village and is an unusual building.  The church, originally purchased in kit form, is constructed from corrugated steel sheeting and features pretty stained glass windows.  The village is picturesque and regarded as a hidden jewel along the coast.

Parking is quite limited with a small municipal car park located just before the village entrance.  However, from here you can pick up one of the numerous walks to either the north or south of the coast.  Both directions provide many photo opportunities from rocky outcrops and crags to several wildfowl parks and nature reserves.  Newton Point, Beadnell Bay and Seahouses lie to the north whilst the imposing ruins of Dunstanborough castle can be seen to the south.

In 1313, Earl Thomas of Lancaster, cousin of Edward II of England began construction of a massive fortress. By the time of his execution in 1322, the castle was substantially complete. John of Gaunt improved the castle in the late 14th century as the Duke of Lancaster.  In the Wars of the Roses, the castle was held for the Lancastrians in 1462 and 1464. The damage done was not made good and the castle fell steadily into decay.  The castle is now owned by the National Trust and in the care of English Heritage.

The present castle encloses the entire 11 acres (4.5 ha) headland. A long wall punctuated by two rectangular towers (the Constable and Egyncleugh towers), two turrets and a large twin-towered gatehouse at the western corner protects the southern approach. From the gatehouse, the wall carries northward along the hilltop to a rectangular turreted watchtower, known as the Lilburn Tower.

The twin-towered gatehouse served as the principal residential block of the castle. It is composed of two tall D-shaped towers; the gatehouse-keep is a masterpiece of 14th century castle design. Each tower was of four stories, and was originally capped by four turrets about 80 feet (24 m) above ground level. Gates at each end protected the long gate passage and two soldiers' barracks line the passage at ground level. On the first floor, the gatehouse was divided into three rooms, with the central one controlling the portcullis mechanism. On the second floor above ground level there was a large room running across the entire width of the gatehouse, comprising a hall and chambers.

Newton by the Sea is an ideal spot for walks and hikes to the north and south of the Northumberland coast and for photo opportunities - the wilder the weather the better.

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