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Warkworth Castle: one of the largest and firmest castles in Northumberland

Marija Georgievska

Warkworth Castle is a medieval building which today it is ruined and is located in Warkworth, Northumberland. It is not known when it was founded for the first time.

It is believed that Prince Henry of Scotland made the construction in the middle of the 12th century, but also it may have been built by King Henry II of England. The first document about the castle is in a charter of 1157 and 1164 when the King granted it to Roger Fitz Richard.

The keep of Warkworth Castle  Photo Credit

The keep of Warkworth Castle  Photo Credit

After Fitz Richard had died, the owner of the castle was his son John who succeeded it in 1214 and later, in 1240, John’s son Roger became the owner. When Roger died, his son Robert was very young, so a guardian was appointed to take care of the family’s estate. It was the half-brother of King Henry III, William de Valence, and he stayed in his guardianship until 1268 when Roger’s son was old enough to take over. In 1297, Robert and his son John de Clavering had been captured after the Battle of Stirling Bridge.

View of the castle from the Coquet river Photo Credit

View of the castle from the Coquet river Photo Credit

After their release, John assumed control of the estates, and he made arrangements so that after his death the whole property will belong to the King. In 1322, the keeper of the castle was Ralph Neville who married John’s daughter and was hoping that he will inherit the castle, but that never happened.

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Five years later, the castle was besieged twice by Scottish soldiers, but they didn’t succeed. At that period, the most powerful Northumberland’s dynasty was the Percy family.

The Percy family owned it Photo Credit

The Percy family owned it Photo Credit

After John died in 1332, the castle had become a property of the family. They also owned Alnwick Castle, but Warkworth was their preferred home. King Edward IV confiscated the property, and it was given to the 1st Marquess of Montagu who constructed a 25-foot tower for the defense today known as “Montagu’s Tower.” In 1470, the castle was returned to Henry Percy, the oldest son of the third generation.

The castle’s gatehouse from the 13th century Photo Credit

The castle’s gatehouse from the 13th century Photo Credit

The estate was given to the Crown in 1537, and by 1550 it had fallen into despair. Seven years later, the castle was inherited by Thomas Percy who made some repairs. After he had died, the estate was permitted to the 8th Earl of Northumberland, Henry Percy. In the 17th century, during the time of Algernon Percy, the Parliament took over the castle which may be responsible for its present ruined state.

Today, it is owned and managed by the English Heritage  Photo Credit

Today, it is owned and managed by the English Heritage  Photo Credit

 

The last owner of the Percy family was Josceline who died in 1670. Later, his wife provided materials to be used for the building of the Chirton Hall.

According to Wikipedia, the keep of the castle was described by Goodall as a “masterpiece of medieval English architecture.” It is believed that it was designed somewhere in the 14th century by John Lewyn.

The Lion Tower Photo Credit

The Lion Tower Photo Credit

There is a large lion on the north side which represents the coat of arms of the Percy family. The sculptures at the castle, together with the lion probably had stood out from the other parts of the building. The property passed to the Duke of Somerset, and in 1750 it was inherited by Elizabeth Seymor. During this century the castle was slowly fallen into ruin.

The castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument  Photo Credit

The castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument  Photo Credit

Some reconstruction work was done in the 19th century, and new floors and roofs were added to two rooms known as the Duke’s Chambers. These Chambers remained under direct control of the Percy family, and the rest of the castle was granted to the Office of Works.

Read another story from us: The ruins of a Scottish castle which was struck by lightning and completely abandoned

From 1984 the site is managed by the English Heritage, and today it is a nationally significant historic building. It is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and it is listed as a Grade I building.