Remember the North Pennines walking tour of Durham’s Distinction, which I opened
the entry with on May 31st 2006? I mentioned Langley Castle Hotel but I didn’t
expound on its virtues or give you a decent photo of this little splendor. Today I’m
going to give you both plus a few other gems you can rest your tired body at in both
Durham and Northumberland during your castling adventures. Enjoy! – The Castle Lady
Langley Castle Hotel is a true renaissance castle in the same sense that Bunratty Castle in Ireland was restored by Lord Gort ( see my review of the book Bunratty: Rebirth of a Castle written on the history and restoration in my Nov. 23, 2007 entry ). The restoration of Langley, which is a border castle between Durham and Northumberland, was started by the local historian Cadwallader Bates in 1882 along with his wife, Josephine who had to finish the work after his death in 1902.
This tower house was built to an H-plan design by Thomas de Lucy in the south west corner of Northumberland in 1350. It is four storeys high and has four corner turrets of substantial strength. Its garderobe rivaled all others in the country through its ingenious design. Although it may not appear so, it was besieged by Henry IV during his campaign against the de Percies and was severely damaged. By the 16th century it was mere ruins.
In the 17th century the estate became the property of the Earls of Derwentwater who were the Viscounts Langley. James, the third Earl and Charles his brother, took part in the Jacobite uprisings of 1715. These two men were executed at the Tower of London and the cross which stands by the road is a commemoration of their loyalty to the King of Scotland, who was their Lawful Sovereign. It was subsequently confiscated by the English Crown and its administration passed to the Royal Naval Hospital at Greenwich just outside London. Today it is a lovely tower castle near Tynedale and Hexham which is available as a castle hotel.
The Landmark Trust’s Morpeth Castle is also a castle hotel rebuilt according to its original medieval design on a hill overlooking the River Wansbeck and the town of Morpeth. It is a true rarity in the world of castle hotels, but there are several more like it in England and elsewhere in Europe.
A gatehouse, which is part of the second of two castles which were built on this site, remains. The first was, of course, a motte and bailey built sometime in the 11th century and the part which is restored was built inside the bailey in the 13th century by Lord Greystoke.
This rebuilt gatehouse was a courthouse and sessions were held in the large room on the first floor. That room now houses the kitchen, of which I’ve included a photo of as well. Further alterations occurred in 1700 and 1860 with new dwellings formed inside the original walls. On the grounds you will see, from the photos I have commented on in the photo album, ruins of the second which have been maintained since the siege against Morpeth during the Civil War. In 1516, Henry VIII’s sister Margaret ( also widow of James IV of Scotland ) stayed at Morpeth for four months when she was fleeing her enemies in Scotland. Morpeth’s great moment in military history occurred in 1644 when a garrison of 500 Scotsmen held it for Parliament for 20 days countering 2,700 Royalists!
It can be rented by up to seven people, has adjacent parking and houses a solid fuel stove! Dogs are allowed.
Two other Landmark Trust properties you might want to consider trying (although they are not castles, their origins are medieval ! ), are Brinkburn Mill which is in Rothbury Forest near Warkworth, Alnwick, Callaly, and Cartington Castles and Causeway House in Bardon Mill close to all the castles in the South Tyne Valley area! You can view more photos of all these in the Northumberland photo album!
The manorial elegance of Eshott Hall Hotel is apparent with first glance. This Palladian beauty was planned by Trollope during the Georgian period and the owners, the Sandersons, are the sixth generation in their family to keep this historic marvel. It was built in thirty acres of parkland and gardens which include cedars of Lebanon and is within miles of Morpeth Castle. A wonderful feature is the recently refurbished interior which includes period-decorated paneled rooms offering beautiful grandeur, firesides, and candlelit dinners served by the Cordon Bleu talents of the family!
Linden Hall also near Morpeth, one mile north of Longhorsley is an ivy-covered Georgian country estate sitting in 450 acres which is host to an 18 hole golf course. Home to a customary English dignified atmosphere, it is graced by marble hearths, antiques and period furnishings. Pluses to this marvel is an extensive health and beauty spa which includes a steam room and a beautiful Grecian pool. It has fifty bedrooms- some with four-poster beds with private bathrooms, two restaurants and large event facilities.
This estate, which was originally owned by the Earl of Carlisle from the 12th century, was purchased by Charles William Bigge in 1806. He was a successful Newcastle banker and bought nearly three thousand acres of Longhorsley and by 1813 the building of a mansion in the Greek Revival style was well underway. Sir Charles Monck, who was an amateur, made the design with the assistance of John Dobson. The home passed through the hands of the Ames, Adamson and Liddell families until 1978 when it was sold to a commercial company and converted to a hotel.
Otterburn Hall Hotel and Otterburn Tower Country House Hotel and Restaurant are seated at Redesdale which is the heart of Northumberland National Park close to an old Roman settlement which can be visited by walking through the woodland paths behind the Hall. They are convenient to Kielder Water and Kielder Castle and the North Tynedale area as well. Otterburn Tower is a three-star 11th century medieval castle set in beautiful gardens and woodland areas covering thirty-two acres of land. Its origins are the work of Robert Umfraville who was William the Conqueror’s cousin and it has withstood many attacks from the Scots including the worst one in the area known as “the bloody battle of Otterburn” in 1388! Nevertheless, it has been beautifully and authentically restored inside and out with marvelous original relics such as the initials of Mad Jack Hall, a well-known Jacobite who was executed at Tyburn, carved above one of the original doors!
Otterburn Hall Hotel which sits in five hundred acres of landscaped green is a luxury venue besides being historic. In addition to the main house there are the garden rooms, the coach house, a full restaurant and bar with full accommodation to wedding parties, conferences and other important events. This was built by Lord James Murray (the son of the Duke of Atholl) in 1869 next to the River Rede. Today it includes a pool room, conference suite and Computer suite. The grounds boast terraced gardens, forest walks, two lakes and five miles of fishing rights in the river.
Dissington Hall has become a venue for weddings ( and corporate meetings ). Situated near the Ponteland castles at Dalton it is a beautiful example of Georgian architecture. This is not a hotel accommodation but Matfen Hall Hotel and Golf Course may be the best choice if you’re planning a nearby honeymoon along with your castle wedding. Matfen Hall was built in 1830 by Sir Edward Blackett. It was opened as a hotel in 1999 after a careful restoration by Sir Hugh and Lady Blackett and also offers facilities for conferences, weddings and accommodation with thirty-one luxurious rooms. The Great Hall still has original features such as stained glass windows, massive pillars and stone floors. You’ll find a large open fireplace in the Drawing Room and restaurant in the Library serving English and International cuisine under a master chef. The eighteen-hole golf course is considered one of the finest in Northeast England. A smaller 9 hole par 3 gold course is also on the grounds and spa services are offered also.
The Blacketts, owners of Matfen Hall
Tillmouth Park Country House Hotel is close by to Twizel Castle and Berwick and is a magnificent mansion with a foundation comprised of stone from Twizel Castle, built in the 19th century. Take a look at it in the Northumberland photo album. Situated high on fifteen acres of parkland which overlooks the River Till, most of the large bedrooms afford wonderful sweeping views of the countryside. The galleried main hall is well furnished and comfortable and open log fires are appointed throughout the house. There is a nice wood-paneled restaurant offering contemporary British cuisine and a Bistro which is a little less formal. The area is surrounded by golf courses and you won’t find a better furnished hotel in Northumberland outside Newcastle.
The Vermont Hotel which is situated right next to the historic Castle Garth in Newcastle, overlooks the Tyne Bridge directly and is a winner of the RAC Blue Ribbon and the AA Courtesy & Care Award- a result of attentive service, making guests feel welcome and well-taken-care-of – a true rarity in big city hotels. A former County Hall, this classic-façade 12-storey edifice was converted to a hotel in 1993. It is also the city’s sole independently-owned 4-Star hotel and is very stylish with 101 rooms and suites, a good selection of restaurants, bars and conference facilities with parking service. Convenient to Newcastle’s best shopping, this one is a delight if not a bit pricey.
T – 0118 971 4700
Seaham Hall Hotel and Serenity Spa located at Seaham on Lord Byron’s Walk is a beauty located nearby to the sea and on the border of Durham and Northumberland. Lord Byron married Annabella Millbanke here in 1815 and the grand feeling in this atmosphere accompanied by the breathtaking views of the North sea will give you a sense that they may still inhabit these walls! Londonderry mining magnates held real court in this idyllic setting and even so you won’t feel like you’re historically out of place because of the marvelous restoration.
Purchased in 1997 by Tom Maxfield, no expense was spared in bringing it up to 21st century code. A beautiful ballroom with a south-facing terrace accommodates 120 guests. Nineteen en suite guest rooms, including a penthouse suite, were singularly designed and are appointed with luxurious facilities. French cuisine is served in the restaurant and the oriental spa has Thai food available.
Who loves you more each day? The Castle Lady that’s who !
So we’ll go no more a roving so late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving, and the moon be still as bright.
for the sword outwears its sheath, and the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe, and love itself have rest.
Though the night was made for loving, and the day returns too soon,
Yet we’ll go no more a-roving by the light of the moon.
Too much love? There’s no such thing ! Go for it ! !