Posted by: mdmusingsie | August 22, 2015

Northumberland Castle Hunting – cuid a dó

Another day, another castle. After visiting so many tower castles and manor houses in Ireland and Scotland, I forget how big the English castle estates are. Bamburgh is another large complex perched atop a rocky outcrop overlooking a gorgeous beach with a view of the Farne Islands.

Gorgeous beach below Bamburgh

Gorgeous beach below Bamburgh

Farne Island view from Bamburgh

Farne Island view from Bamburgh

Roadside View  - Bamburgh

Roadside View – Bamburgh

Archaeological digs have indicated occupation of the site for over 10,000 years. The current entry way leads you to the admissions desk which was formerly a prison cell. Based on castles I’ve visited in England and other spots in Europe, it was common to keep the prisoners around the outer wall entry area.

View inside looking back towards the entrance to Bamburgh

View inside looking back towards the entrance to Bamburgh

Bamburgh Entry

Bamburgh Entry

The keep or main inner tower has 12th century origins but was rebuilt in Victorian times. What can be seen today is a restoration undertaken by Lord Armstrong starting in 1894. Originally, his intention was to turn it into a convalescent home for retired gentlemen but he died before it was finished. His great nephew and heir then turned it into a family home, though he did build a convalescent home in the town to honor his great uncle.

Keep, State Rooms, apartments - Bamburgh

Keep, State Rooms, apartments – Bamburgh

Inner Bailey, State Rooms and apartments - Bamburgh

Inner Bailey, State Rooms and apartments – Bamburgh

Bamburgh Castle - Keep

Bamburgh Castle – Keep

The state rooms are set up like a museum and are no longer occupied by any residents. There are scores of nooks and crannies, stairways built into walls and likely other hidden passageways, making it a very intriguing place.

Staircase hidden behind paneling - Bamburgh

Staircase hidden behind paneling – Bamburgh

More staircases to places we couldn't visit - Bamburgh

More staircases to places we couldn’t visit – Bamburgh

Can you spot the stairway to the left? One of the intriguing passageways.

Can you spot the stairway to the left? One of the intriguing passageways.

Some of the most interesting rooms are the King’s Hall which leads to the Cross Hall, once separated by folding doors. The restored ceiling consists of over 300 tons of teak with more being used on the carved paneling. Instead of teak, pine was used to create the ballroom quality dance floor. Unable to take photos inside Alnwick, I went a bit wild with them at Bamburgh, where the only restriction is no flash.

Wood carvings in Bamburgh King's Hall

Wood carvings in Bamburgh King’s Hall

Wood Carvings - Bamburgh

Wood Carvings – Bamburgh

Bamburgh King's Hall looking towards Cross Hall

Bamburgh King’s Hall looking towards Cross Hall

300 ton teak ceiling in Bamburgh King's Hall

300 ton teak ceiling in Bamburgh King’s Hall

Minstrel gallery in Bamburgh King's Hall

Minstrel gallery in Bamburgh King’s Hall

Window above Minstrel's Gallery - Bamburgh

Window above Minstrel’s Gallery – Bamburgh

Cross Hall - Bamburgh

Cross Hall – Bamburgh

Carved stonework above fireplace in Cross Hall, Bamburgh

Carved stonework above fireplace in Cross Hall, Bamburgh

A long hallway connects those rooms to the keep which has many of the traditional medieval features such as undressed stone arches and ceilings. As with most castles of this age, the walls are amazingly thick.

Fireplace, sitting area - Bamburgh

Fireplace, sitting area – Bamburgh

Faire Room - Bamburgh

Faire Room – Bamburgh

Corridor between hall and keep - Bamburgh

Corridor between hall and keep – Bamburgh

Stone ceiling arch in chapel - Bamburgh

Stone ceiling arch in chapel – Bamburgh

Steps to Keep Hall - Bamburgh

Steps to Keep Hall – Bamburgh

Great Hall in Keep - Bamburgh

Great Hall in Keep – Bamburgh

Look how thick the walls are at Bamburgh keep!

Look how thick the walls are at Bamburgh keep!

Bakery at Bamburgh

Bakery at Bamburgh

The well towards the back of the keep hall is a marvelous feat of construction – 145 feet deep and 6 feet wide, it was dug through solid whinstone and sandstone.

Deep Well - Bamburgh

Deep Well – Bamburgh

Although we had beautiful weather on our visit, it’s not always that way. The walls have taken their share of battering by sea and storms as can be seen in some the brick and stonework in the outer wall facing the sea as well as on an interior window.

Weathered stone - Bamburgh

Weathered stone – Bamburgh

Weathered Stone at Bamburgh

Weathered Stone at Bamburgh

Whilst not quite at kitschy as Alnwick, there are plenty of games and things for kids to do. Old Victorian games like stick and hoop and a bowling game where the pins are in a straight line, plus many more are scattered throughout the grounds. Even in the staterooms there are places where paper and pencils or crayons can be used to create rubbings off medieval and Victorian images.

Several areas in the castle complex contain apartments which are let on a long term basis (i.e. you can’t just rent them for a week for holidays). What an awesome place to live! Beware, though, there are reports of ghosts on the premises.

Both Castles are also available for rental for weddings or other special occasions. You really can be prince or princess for a day, or at least pretend.

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