Friday, 7 March 2014

Warkworth Castle

 Before the Norman conquest, it is believed there was a stronghold, built by Ceolwulph, a Northumbrian King.  In 1158 Henry II bestowed the manor upon Roger Fitz-Richard, the ancestor of the Clavering family.  Roger set about fortifying the property and built a castle.  In 1173 William the Lion crossed the border to support his claim for possession  of Northumberland as part of the Scottish kingdom and the castle was destroyed.  However it was quickly rebuilt and in the reign of Edward II, the manor of Warkworth, and the castle, reverted to the Crown.  Eventually it became the principle seat of the second Lord Percy of Alnwick.

Castle Gates

In 1403 an attempt was made to raise the north in rebellion against the king and the Earl of Northumberland was a leading player.  The Earl went to meet the king and was promptly put into prison and the castle along with Prudhoe and Alnwick castles reverted back to the king.  The Earl was later set free but again chanced his luck at rebellion.  The king marched into Northumberland and the Earl fled north of the border leaving his castles behind.

John of Lancaster, son of the king, was made Warden of the East March and took up residence at Warkworth.  In 1462 Edward IV granted the residence to his brother, George, Duke of Clarence and in 1463 was besieged by Sir Ralph Grey.  Under Henry VII, the manor came back to the Percies and has remained since.
Castle Keep

The Lion Tower
In 1569 The Earl of Northumberland joined in a rebellion caused by changes of the Reformation.  The rebellion proved a failure and the Earl took off for north of the border.  Sir John Forster took possession of the castle.

The Lion Tower


The last Percy earl died in 1670. In the mid-18th century the castle found its way into the hands of Hugh Smithson, who married the indirect Percy heiress. He adopted the name "Percy" and founded the dynasty of the Dukes of Northumberland, through whom possession of the castle descended.

In the late 19th century, the dukes refurbished Warkworth Castle and Anthony Salvin was commissioned to restore the keep. Alan Percy, 8th Duke of Northumberland gave custody of the castle to the Office of Works in 1922. Since 1984 English Heritage  has cared for the site, which is a Grade I listed building.

The Great Hall

Entrance to the Lion Tower

The Chapel inside the Keep

Warkworth castle is also famous for starring in one or two passages from Shakespear’s “King Henry IV”

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