- Travel and Places
Castles of England: V
Castles of England
A castle inhabitant so devoted to her brother that she cleverly snuck him out of prison after dressing him as her maid; a castle said to be haunted by a lady killed by priests who then dumped her body in a well; and a castle connected to the legend of King Arthur. These stories and more can be found here.
The Castles covered on this page are: Bamburgh Castle, Pendennis Castle, Lumley Castle, Pendragon Castle, Corfe Castle, Raby Castle, and Lulworth Castle.
Located overlooking the town of Bamburgh in Northumberland, England, the oldest parts of Bamburgh Castle date as far back as the 11th century, although records and excavations show that previous castles have existed here as far back as the early 500's.
In 1095, the Earl of Northumberland revolted and King William II attacked the castle. The Norman built castle was so well defended that the king had to capture Robert de Mowbray, the Earl of Northumberland. This wasn't enough for the king, he wanted the castle. The Earl's wife and those loyal to the Earl held out in the castle until King William II threatened to blind the Earl.
Bamburgh Castle's important position on the coast of Northumberland opened it up to constant attacks from the Scottish, and when the cannon was invented, many castles were destroyed or severely damaged by it, and such was the fate of Bamburgh Castle in the War of the Roses in 1464.
Elizabeth I gave Bamburgh Castle to Claudius Forster for his mastery in thwarting the raids of the Scottish rogues. He lived in the castle keep until he was 101.
Tom Forster and his sister Dorothy are two very interesting people who once lived in Bamburgh Castle. Tom joined the Jacobite Rebellion in 1715, and was promoted to general, but he wasn't prepared for the King's forces, and surrendered on the battlefield. He was kept in a cell in Newgate Prison. Dorothy, being the good sister that she was, visited her brother regularly, accompanied by her maid. One day, the clever girl visited her brother without her maid, and wore her maids clothes under her own. The guards were used to the sister's visits, and paid little attention when she was there, so it was easy enough to dress Tom in the maids clothes. The two left the prison, Dorothy accompanied by "her maid". She hid him for two years, and he afterwards made his way to France. A portrait of Tom and Dorothy hangs in Bamburgh Castle today.
As time went on, Bamburgh was restored several times, but once again began to decay until it was purchased by William Armstrong, who restored the castle to it's present condition.
The large photo of Bamburgh Castle above courtesy of emms76.
Located in Cornwall, England, Pendennis Castle is one of the fortifications built by King Henry VIII to defend England against Spain and France, who were angry over his divorce with Catherine of Aragon. Built between 1540-1545, Pendennis Castle guarded the Carrick Roads along with St. Mawes Castle, which was built on the other side of the River Fal.
While St. Mawes Castle was elaborately built, Pendennis Castle was simply a large round tower, castle gate, and curtain wall. Elizabeth I was responsible for bastions and an outer wall that enclosed the entire castle.
As fate would have it, it wasn't Spain and France who attacked Pendennis Castle, but Parliamentary forces during the English Civil War. Royalist troops under the command of Sir John Arundel held out in Pendennis Castle for 5 months until they, along with women and children who took refuge in the castle, were forced to surrender or starve.
Today, Pendennis Castle is host to medieval fairs, and the castle interior is open to visitors. There is a fascinating interactive exhibit in the castle's Discovery Center.
Large photo of Pendennis Castle above courtesy of Mat Strange.
Located in Durham, England, the Lumley manor house of the family was built up as a castle in 1389 by Sir Ralph Lumley. Sir Lumley was a brave soldier who was captured by the Scottish in 1388 and spent a year in confinement. After his release, he was given permission by the king to build the castle upon his return to England.
Sir Ralph Lumley didn't have long to enjoy his castle, because he and his son Thomas were charged with conspiracy to overthrow King Henry IV and replace him with Richard II. Sir Lumley and his son were found guilty and executed in 1400. The castle was then given to the Earl of Somerset. The earl died without heir, and according to English law, the castle was given back to the Lumley family, namely, Sir Ralph Lumley's grandson, Thomas.
Sir Thomas Lumley was also a brave soldier, and fought in the War of the Roses. In 1461, he was a part of the successful siege of Bamburgh Castle. The Lumley name was a pivotal part of Lumley Castle well into the 1800's. Later, the castle became home to the Bishop of Durham. Today, it belongs to Lord Scarbrough, and in 1976, the castle became a grand hotel, although Lord Scarbrough retains ownership.
What is a medieval castle without a resident ghost? There have been many sitings of Lady Lily Lumley, the wife of Sir Ralph Lumley. She reportedly walks the halls of Lumley Castle after being killed by priests and dumped into the well, which can still be seen on the castle grounds.
Large photo of Lumley Castle above courtesy of City Breezes.
Located in Mallerstang, Cumbria, England, near the river Eden, Pendragon Castle was built in the 12th century by Ranulf le Meschin (the younger), who later became the 3rd Earl of Chester. There is a legend that a 5th century castle stood here built by Uther Pendragon, the father of King Arthur. It is said that Uther tried to divert the river to provide the castle with a natural moat, but failed, and a local ditty sprang from his efforts:
Let Uther Pendragon do what he can, Eden will run where Eden ran.
One famous master of Pendragon Castle was Hugh de Morville, Lord of Westmorland, a knight of King Henry II. Hugh de Morville was one of the four knights responsible for the murder of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury. King Henry II was angry with the archbishop and reportedy spoke, "What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?" The four knights: Hugh de Morville, Reginald Fitzurse, William de Tracy, and Richard le Breton, misunderstood this as a command to kill the archbishop and they murdered him in Canterbury Cathedral on 29 December 1170. the king advised the knights to flee to Scotland where they sought refuge in Knaresborough Castle.
Pendragon Castle was twice attacked by troops from Scotland and fell into great disrepair until it was restored by Lady Anne Clifford in 1660. She loved the castle and added much to the property. After her death, it passed to the Earl of Thanet who brought it to ruin by removing anything of value from the castle, even parts of the roof. Pendragon Castle began to collapse soon after and has been a ruin ever since.
Although the castle is a ruin, it sits on an enchanting piece of privately owned land. The area is open to the public, but care must be taken since parts of the castle are unstable.
The large photo of Pendragon Castle above courtesy of thewtuck.
Located overlooking the village of Corfe Castle, Dorset, England, Corfe Castle was an important Saxon fortress before the Norman Conquest. Most of the ruins of the castle seen today dates to the 11th century.
Corfe Castle was witness to much intrigue, misery, and death. Edward the Martyr was murdered at this site in 978. The castle withstood a siege by King Stephen in 1153, and became a State Prison where King John starved 22 French knights to death. King John also hung Peter the Hermit at Corfe Castle because he did not like Peter's predictions about the future of the king (which all came true).
During the reign of King Edward II, Corfe Castle got its defensive walls and towers. This didn't protect Edward from his wife, Queen Isabella and her lover, Mortimer. They murdered Edward at Berkeley Castle, then sent a letter to his brother Edmund telling him that Edward was actually alive and imprisoned at Corfe Castle. Edmund tried to rescue the brother he believed to be alive which led to a bizarre charge of treason, and he was beheaded.
Edmund's daughter the Black Prince who was the son of King Edward III of England. Her husband died before his father, so upon the death of King Edward III, the title passed to her son, Richard II who became king at 10 years old. Richard was eventually removed from the throne and imprisoned by Henry IV, who claimed the throne for himself.
The castle passed through many hands until 1643, when Sir John Bankes bought the castle. The castle was attacked by the Parliamentarians while Sir John was away, so Lady Mary Bankes led the defense of the castle. The castle withstood attack after attack, until it was betrayed in 1646 by Colonel Pitman, who agreed to give up the castle for his own safety. Through trickery, he snuck in Parliamentary troops who took the keep. Lady Bankes and her family were allowed to leave safely.
The castle was looted and the House of Commons voted for its demolition. The castle was so well built, that the towers just slid down the hill intact, and some fell over without breaking apart. In the 1980s the current owner Ralph Bankes, gave the entire Bankes estate to the National Trust. The castle underwent extensive restoration in 2008 and is open to the public.
The large photo of Corfe Castle above is courtesy of treehouse1977.
Located near the village of Staindrop in Durham, England, Raby Castle was first built in the 11th century, but the core of the one seen today was built around 1360 by John, 3rd Baron Nevill. Cecily Neville, called the "Rose of Raby", was born here on 3 May 1415, and was the mother of King Edward IV of England and King Richard III of England.
The Nevill family were owners of Raby house until they led the Rising of the North (also known as Revolt of the Northern Earls) in support of Mary, Queen of Scots. The revolt failed and the Nevill's lost Raby Castle to the crown.
In 1626, Sir Henry Vane the Elder purchased the castle and the castle became the home of the Dukes of Cleveland. It was during this time that the large entrance hall and drawing room were added to the castle.
Raby Castle was built as a manor house and therefore did not have the defenses of a fortress, but Sir George Vane held out in the castle during the English Civil War, when Raby Castle was twice attacked. Once in 1645 and again in 1648. The castle was so well built, that it sustained little damage.
In 1714, Sir Christopher Vane, the 1st Baron Bernard was so angry over his son's marriage to a woman the baron did not approve of, that he stripped Raby Castle of all the furniture, and anything else of value, including the doors! His son, Gilbert, took his father to court and forced him to pay for all the repairs.
By the end of the 18th century, Raby Castle and its castle grounds had underwent many improvements by Henry, the Earl of Darlington, and his son the 2nd Earl. The castle saw further improvements in the 19th century, and is today still owned by the Vane family, with the current owner also being a descendant of the Nevill family.
The large photo of Raby Castle above courtesy of Glen Bowman.
Located in East Lulworth, Dorset, England, Lulworth Castle was built in 1610 as a hunting lodge by Thomas Howard, 3rd Lord Bindon, in hopes of enticing King James I to hunt in the area. About 30 years later, Humphrey Weld bought the castle, and it is still owned by the Weld family.
In 1786, the Catholic Church of St. Mary was built on the property by the Weld family. The church was built in the neo-classical style that was popular at the time, and the marble altar in the church was brought from Rome.
The Weld family renovated and updated the Lulworth Castle several times throughout its history, making it a more comfortable family manor house. Many of the renovations went up in flames in 1929, when a devastating fire destroyed the roof and upper floors of their beloved home. In the 1970s, with the help of English Heritage, the family restored the castle exterior, although there is still damage to the interior of the castle today. Restoration efforts are therefore, ongoing. The Lulworth Castle is host to numerous festivals and medieval fairs, and is a very popular attraction.
The large photo of Lulworth Castle above courtesy of Stevec77.
Looking for Ghosts?
I have a weakness for the Ghost Hunters series, and my idea of a great evening is an episode of Ghost Hunters, a mysterious castle, and a glass of wine.
You can get the Ghost Hunters investigating a castle here, as for the glass of wine? There's not much I can do for you in that regard, other than drink a toast to you, which I will do happily. Not too much though, or I'll start seeing ghosts, myself.