Thursday, 26 April 2012

W is for Warkworth Castle, Northumberland

Warkworth Castle when it was first built was considered “feeble” – the first and last time I expect to hear a castle described such!  At this stage it was a timber castle and was left undefended when the Scots invaded in 1173.

Little Stair Keep

Although the settlement of Warkworth dates back to at least the 8th century, the first castle was not built until after the Norman Conquest in 1066.

The town and castle were built within the loop of the River Coquet, the castle occupying the southern end guarding the narrow neck of the loop.

The loop of the river, with the main road running
round the castle and through the loop
- the castle is marked

Bob Scotney gives an excellent account of Warkworth Castle for his W – and so please go over and read his historical record. 

The Dukes of Northumberland eventually gained control and favoured Warkworth as their main residence – until they moved their allegiances to Alnwick Castle, when a slow decline set in.

The castle continued to languish ... but through the Bishop of Dromore (1729 – 1811), Thomas Percy’s poem “The Hermit of Warkworth” – the town and its historic ruins attracted interest as a tourist destination.

The Keep
This Percy’s (no connection to the dynastic family) greatest contribution is considered to be his “Reliques of Ancient English Poetry” (1765) - the first of the great ballad collections, which was the one work most responsible for the ballad revival in English poetry that was a significant part of the Romantic movement.

As an aside – Dr Percy was the first person to publish (1761) in English a Chinese novel.

JMW Turner even travelled north to paint the ruins in 1799.

Warkworth village
Nicolas Pevsner (1902 – 1983), best known for his 46-volume series of county-by-county guides, The Buildings of England, describes Warkworth thus:

“... of the imposing castle - that the military engineer (unknown) happened also to be a great architect.”   He went on: “Warkworth must be approached from the north. 

With its bridge, its bridge-tower, then Bridge Street at an angle, joining the main street up a hill to the towering, sharply cut block of the keep, it is one of the most exciting sequences of views one can have in England.”

An English Heritage event at the Castle
By 1984 the Castle was under English Heritage and is a scheduled monument, a nationally important historic building and an archaeological site, with a Grade 1 listed building status.

Warkworth Castle is a good example of a castle ‘surviving’ through numerous wars, rivalries, progenitor dying off, restoration by royals to ownership once again ...

... it has been Scottish and English, Catholic and Protestant, “feeble”, a ruin and now a national monument.  What a history ... a potted history of England embedded within the fabric of the castle’s life ... it has it all, and has had it all.

St Lawrence’s Church (left) is unique in Northumberland in being a large and almost completely Norman building.  The first record of a church on the site dates from 737 AD – historically interesting with impressive stained glass windows.

That is W for Warkworth Castle – a ruin of a castle yet recognised as an internationally important structure ... part of the ABC series of Aspects of British Castles.

Bob Scotney featured Belvoir Castle in the Vale of Belvoir yesterday;

Bob also recommended that we read The Hermitage of Warkworth ballad ... which begins:

Dark was the night, and wild the storm,
And loud the torrent's roar,
And loud the sea was heard to dash
Against the distant shore.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories



Not many more castles to visit Hilary, this one was wonderful as ever. I shall miss my daily tour.


Karen Walker said...

Hey Hilary - miss you! Has anyone counted the number of castles in Great Britain?

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

What an inspiring place to live near!

Jo said...

I found out there were 12 castles in Kent through Google so I guess you can Google for the total number of castles.

Interesting castle once again.

Bob Scotney said...

You'll get a different answer from google depending on which source you choose.

Thanks Hilary, for the heads up on Warkworth. We've only matched up on 2 out of 23 so far.

I'd recommend everyone to look up the Bishop Percy's poem you mentioned.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi everyone .. I've posted the link to Bishop Percy's ballad - as he suggested .. to entice you to give it a read .. sounds fun and I need to go back to it.

@ Yvonne - actually I'm surprised I'm loving doing my castle posts and will miss everyone's visit - I guess I'd better post more regularly!!

@ Karen - I know me too .. I'm sort of getting round and it comes in waves and surges .. I'll be there!

@ Elizabeth - it's an inspiring place and it's got so much history attached to it.

@ Jo - I started to count, then gave up .. there are hundreds and it depends how you count them .. iron age forts, ruins, castles with walls that I know you're keen on!, converted castellated houses etc etc .. Wikipedia has a list of them ---- if you'd like to count?!

Glad you enjoyed the visit though!

@ Bob - counting castles would send you to sleep, while you worked out whether it was a castle or no!!

Pleasure - your posting was much better than mine - so I'm glad I just opted out and left you to tell the story.

I'd love to do another post sometime on John of Gaunt and the Wars of the Roses - a part of history I haven't really worked out. Perhaps I will ..

Also thanks for suggesting I put in a link to Bishop Percy's ballad - this I've done ..

Cheers everyone - lovely to see you and all the thumbs up comments - cheers Hilary

Old Kitty said...

Nothing feeble about its amazing history! Yay! Take care

Luanne G. Smith said...

That is quite the imposing view atop the hill. I love learning about all these lesser known castles. Only a few more posts to go. Time to get creative with these last three letters, at least for me. :)

Lynn Proctor said...

another great one--i am going to miss all of these wonderful trips!

A Lady's Life said...

It looks like a very nice building. Somewhat smaller and more homey looking :)

Inger said...

This sounds like a special castle, a sort of survivor castle, strong like that English spirit you all have. I am wondering about the remaining couple of difficult letters, but with all the castles you have in the UK, I'm sure they will present no difficulties for you.

Manzanita said...

Dear Hilary, I was just thinking about you this morning, missing your castles and wondering what you had up your sleeve for W. It doesn't look very feeble to me.
I like the idea of survival but it seems easier of things made of stone or brick.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Warkworth Castle is "different" looking from the rest, but wonderful.

Can you believe we're on W?


Golden Eagle said...

Feeble is definitely not a word I would use to describe a castle! It sounds like Warkworth has a really interesting history.

The Golden Eagle
The Eagle's Aerial Perspective

Glynis Peters said...

Catching up on your castles, Hilary! Gosh, I never realised there were so many in the UK.

Such interesting posts, thank you.

Unknown said...

It's so interesting to see building from so long ago. What history!

Alexandra Heep said...

What awesome history lessons your posts are. I miss castles ...

Julie Flanders said...

It's funny to think of a castle being called feeble! I love how old some things are in the UK, here if something is 200 years old it's considered ancient! The history in these old castles is amazing.

cleemckenzie said...

I'm going to miss your castle posts. I've so enjoyed seeing the beautiful settings and learning about the history of each one. I'll come back to make notes later because I'd love to visit some of these places.

Great meeting you on the A to Z Challenge.

Denise Covey said...

I just can't get over how old these castles are. Your history and images are gorgeous Hilary.


Chuck said...

I would love to photograph some castle ruins and this looks like it would be a great one. Such storied history.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Old Kitty - I know 'feeble' was an odd description .. but I guess to the Scots it was easily attacked.

@ Luanne - good to know you're enjoying the castles I've selected .. and yes I've started my creative XYZ!

@ Lynn - thank you .. actually I am too - I've enjoyed writing the posts and learning so much about my own history!

@ A Lady's Life - it does look a little smaller doesn't it ..

@ Inger - thank you - survivor castle and people .. we do have that strong spirit.

Well - I'm looking forward to everyone's comments for the next posts ... I hope I get the thumbs up!!

@ Manzanita - thanks for coming by as you're not so well at the moment ..

These castles have certainly survived over time that is for sure!! A bit like the Three Little Pigs .. blowing their houses down ..

@ Teresa .. yes Bob beat me to the post - but his history is better than mine .. so I had to do a little cobbling

.. and no being on X now seems extraordinary - I have lots of catching up to do ..

@ Golden - plenty of northern history here .. and feeble's a good word here isn't it .. strange, but true!

@ Glynis - millions of castles - well probably a thousand or two ..

So pleased you're enjoying my selection of castles ..

@ Clarissa - certainly history abounds here .. and lots to see

@ Alexandra - many thanks, so pleased you're enjoying them .. we're here for a visit?!

@ Julie - it was a strange word, so I had to use it - though it would bring a little wry smile to a few.

It's wonderful to live here and be amongst the history .. I know when I visited the States it sort of took me a while to get used to Americans saying .. this is old -and it was 'only' 150 years or so ..

@ Lee - delighted to meet you here too - that's what's wonderful about the A - Z - we can find like minded people ...

I hope my XYZ posts will help you with your notes ... and I'm honoured you want to do that ..

@ Denise - we live amongst ancient ruins - delighted you're enjoying the posts ..

@ Chuck - well we're here for visits any time .. these old castles will stand for another few centuries I guess .. We are lucky though to have our history ..

Thanks everyone .. great to see you - and I'm looking forward to getting across to visit .. cheers Hilary

Anonymous said...

Hi Hilary! What an interesting post. I can't believe that feeble was used to describe this castle. I wouldn't use that word at all. The castle has quite an interesting history to it. What a wonderful castle to feature for the letter W.

Paula Martin said...

Warkworth is one of my favourite castles - amazing place.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Susanne .. it is an interesting castle with lots of history (as Bob shows in his post); feeble is a great description for this fortress isn't it! Glad you enjoyed the post ..

@ Paula - lucky you being close by .. it looks an amazing place - I'd love to visit one day.

Cheers to you both .. Hilary

Ruth said...

I love that keep. It would be nice to visit Scotland some day.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Ruth .. Scotland has some amazing castles and places of history - apart from being stunningly beautiful. Warkworth's Keep is a good example of one.

cheers Hilary

Rosalind Adam said...

We stayed in Warkworth many years ago. The river runs along by the castle and it makes a lovely evening walk. The Church in Warkworth is lovely too, an excellent place for sitting and thinking.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Ros .. that sounds such a lovely stay - the Castle sits so markedly on the hill in the River loop - must be a glorious walk.

So pleased you mentioned the Church - it looks so peaceful .. and good for brief time out for just being.

Wonderful to see you - cheers Hilary

Robyn Campbell said...

I'll miss exploring these castles with you. Warkworth Village is so serene. Would love to visit.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Robyn .. yes after Ros' comment - I'd love to visit too and see The Hermitage that Bob mentioned.

Cheers - Hilary

Sara said...

I visited Walkworth once, back in 2005. I loved it. I thought it was supper cool the way it was facing the wrong way (English castle, in which the safe way to approach was from Scotland) That and the light tower.

Anonymous said...

Warkworth Castle is not far from where I live so I have done many school trips and spent many a bank holiday there. Being from Northumberland I am lucky to have so many castles nearby! Especially alnwick. I remember a school project we did on castles! It made school interesting! :) great post!


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sara - I'm way late in answering these comments - so apologies ... you've added an interesting snippet for us ... the approach being dangerous from the routing Scots in the north.

@ Amy - sorry for not replying earlier. So glad your school was able to make their castles interesting for you - but being in the north and near Warkworth, Alnwick and being able to visit fairly often must be lovely.

Cheers to you both and thanks for coming by ... sorry for my lateness in replying - Hilary