Bamburgh Castle Reviews
It once housed the powerful Kings of Northumbria, it now houses a lousy coffee shop! May 26, 2014
This review is part of my Northumberland blog. One of my main aims was to go castle spotting which I did, and loved every bit of it. But in the process, what I also realised was that the experience is so much better from the outside than paying through your nose for a quick dekko inside.
So coming to Bamburgh - you know the history - this has been handed over to more people through the years than my Frasier DVDs. It was in the hands of the native Britons (as per Wiki), and then to the Anglo-Saxons, then the Vikings destroyed it and finally a Victorian era industrialist bought it and restored it to its current situation in the late 19th century. The Armstrong family still retains ownership.
I thought the entry fees were quite expensive for what it has on show. One walks through the Gatehouse and the first is the mandatory Battery Gate with the guns facing the sea. There was some kind of Medieval Festival thing going on with several tents put up, staff dressed up in those uniforms and painting things on kids' faces. There was also some kind of cooking exhibition.
The inner ward was fairly interesting with exhibits of a lot of world war artifacts. There's also the UK's 2nd largest palatial tapestry (don't know where the largest is). The inner ward rooms are worth about 30 minutes leading to the dungeon, tea rooms and bookshop.
The Keep was closed, and we didn't hit the Library tower. the Stables have been converted into a toilet plus a room with an art exhibition (and selling photos of puffins for exorbitant prices).
The Armstrong and Aviation museum was fairly interesting. Lots of displays of war memorabilia.
We spent a little over an hour here. The views on the outside were so much more worth it than the inside. It's really ok if you visit this place, but frankly, there's more to be had from the outside!
Part of the England (Northumberland and London) travel blog
12 / 12 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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Bamburgh Castle Oct 07, 2012
Bamburgh Castle is located about 5 miles off the main A1 road, although can be done going the coastal route, if you have time.
Open all year round ( 10am - 5pm March -Oct & 11am - 4-30pm Nov - Feb). Last admission to the castle is an hour before closing time, and last entry to the state rooms is 15 minutes after that.
At first sight, it is an impressive, powerful defensive structure, set up on a hill overlooking the beach.
Cost £9 to get in, and when they offer you the wee booklet, for £1, at the desk you should take it, as pages 8 -21 are taken up entirely as a guide to the state rooms. We were running a bit later then planned, and arrived at 3-15pm, which gave us good time to see it, but it probably deserved a bit more, though not much, as it closed at 5pm.
The site has been occupied for over 10,000 years, and is home to the former Kings Of Northumbria. The Keep, which forms the centre of the castle, was built in the 12th Century.
We decided to head for the State Rooms first, stopping off to see the remains of St Peter's Basilica, a church dating back to Anglo-Saxon times.
First thing you come to when you enter the State Rooms is the Great Kitchen. Although it now has more modern displays in it, you can still see the set up of the original kitchen, with it's three large fireplaces.
The tour round the State Rooms is well set out, with easy to follow, one way, directional signs. You are free to take photos here, but no flash allowed, so all the inside pictures are from phones.
You then go through a couple of small rooms, to get to the King's Hall. A nice bright hall, the main thing that catches your eye is the ceiling, made from Siamese Teak and held together by 1300 18'' oak pins. Also, I thought, very clever here, is they have mirrors for you to hold that reflect the ceiling close up 8)
At the end of The King's Hall is the Crosss Hall, whch could be sperated by partition to make are more practical living space.
Tour then takes you through the Billiard Room and a passageway, where there is an interesting curtain made, at the time of the Crimean War, by Russian prisoners out of their uniforms, in recognition of the humanitarian treatment they received.
You then go through the Armoury, which isn't that big, and into the Court Room. Originally a guard room, it became the court of the manor around 1756.
You then head downstairs into the ''sevice areas'' which date from later times, but have a lot of the orignal equipment in them.
Outside of here you come to the gift shop, but on the way out here you can pop into the dungeon.
Once outside we headed down towards the stables, which now also contan the toilets, passing the Belle tower, with the clock, which is now a cafe.
You can head out through the arch, and the museum is down to the left, but we didn't have time to go in. Out here as well is an archaeological dig, that was started in the 1960's. There is a tower further along that are what remains of the windmill.
We walked back along the castle's batteries, which still have cannon on them, and give grat views down onto the beach below.
An beautiful location, an interesting history and the staff were really, really nice and helpful, directing us what to do and then pointing out little things as we did the tour. On the way out we were stopped twice, by different staff, just to ask what we thought of the place, not in a box ticking survey type manner but genuinely interested in the feedback.
Well worth the small detour, if you are passing by in that part of the country.
Part of the Geordie Shores - Newcastle Oct 2012 travel blog
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Visit the castle Aug 21, 2012
Bamburgh Castle stands on a massive outcrop of rock and towers over the sands below. Unlike many castles on this coast, it is still a family home, and thus far more complete than the ruins elsewhere. It is truly an impressive sight.
There has been a castle at Bamburgh since the sixth century, when the site was chosen as the Royal capital by the kings of Northumbria. And it is easy to see why this site would be chosen. It has commanding views over the coast – a coast that was vulnerable to attack from Vikings and others. And the basalt outcrop on which the successive castles have stood is one of the most prominent landmarks along that coast.
Talking though of the Vikings, in 993 they succeeded in destroying the original fort. The Normans built a new castle on the same site, which forms the core of the present one. It was a royal possession for centuries, and an important element in the defence of England against the Scots, with the border just a few miles to the north. In 1464, during the Wars of the Roses, it was the first castle in England to be defeated by artillery, at the end of a nine-month siege by the Earl of Warwick.
For 400 years the castle remained in royal hands, with the local Forster family serving as governors. Eventually the castle was made over to them. But in 1700 the then owner, Sir William Forster, died bankrupt and the castle, along with all his other possessions, was handed over to the Bishop of Durham as settlement of his debts. The castle fell into disrepair but was restored by various owners during the following centuries, and was finally bought by the Victorian industrialist William Armstrong, who completed the restoration. It still belongs to the Armstrong family, who maintain it and open it for the public to view. Its grandeur makes it much in demand as a film location, and it has featured in films such as Ivanhoe (1952), El Cid (1961), Mary, Queen of Scots (1972), and Elizabeth (1998).
If you like your castles to be romantically ruined, this is maybe not the one for you. But if you like to see a building largely intact and strong, still standing proudly above the coast it once defended so effectively, Bamburgh is indeed an impressive sight.
Part of the Northumberland travel blog
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Bamburg Castle Jul 30, 2009
I drive alot, perhaps too much since I now have a constant clicking in my clutch ankle and try to look in the rear view mirror when walking. Last year I drove over 30,000 miles. What perhaps is more surprising is that I drove over 30,000 miles within the UK only.
One thing I got majorly bugged with whilst on my travels was the boredom of pulling into motorway service stations. Of course to re-fuel it was kind of nessersary, but to stop and have a breather they are terrible.
One particular day whilst driving full speed to the Shetland Isles to take photos of the henge I was hungry, and thirsty, and the food was in the boot. I needed somewhere to stop and up came a little brown sign displaying a castle.
Without giving it too much thought I pulled off and went hurtling around a network of narrow countrylanes, still oblivious in my hurry to the beautiful countryside.
As the castle came into view I could hardly believe its beauty. A large castle stacked upon rock sediment, overlooking the most beautiful beach I have ever seen in the UK. I spent hours just sitting on the beach admiring the sand and surf like nature had intended.
Words cannot describe how utterly gorgeous this place is, at least for myself. Now whenever Im up north, I will always make time to stop there. Its worth taking the time on a nice day to just sit on the deserted beach, with the view of the distant lighthouse and castle on Holy Island. If this isnt what exploring is about, then I dont know what is.
Take a preview here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmewijyR01s
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