Castles of England/County Durham

Image Ownership
/ Access
Notes (Key)
Auckland Castle Keep and bailey 110112–16th century Rebuilt HH
Church of England
Mostly 16th century, fragments remain of medieval castle, residence of the Bishop of Durham.
Barnard Castle Keep and bailey 100111–14th century Ruins EH
Bishopton Castle Motte and bailey 110112th century Earthworks HAL Well-preserved earthworks.
Bowes Castle Keep 110112th century Fragmentary remains EH Ruins of keep survive.
Brancepeth Castle Keep and bailey 130114–19th century Reconstructed Private Substantial medieval portions including 5 towers incorporated in 19th century rebuilding.
Durham Castle Keep and bailey 100111–14th century Rebuilt University College, Durham Much altered during continuous occupation since c.1072.
Lambton Castle Neo-romantic castle 1820c.1820–8 Intact Wedding venue / Earl of Durham Later additions demolished following subsidence.
Lumley Castle Quadrangular castle 1392c.1392 Intact Hotel / Earl of Scarbrough Altered c.1580 and 1721.
Mortham Tower Fortified manor house 130114–16th century Intact Private 140115th century tower, formerly in Yorkshire.
Raby Castle Castle 110112–14th century Intact HH
Lord Barnard
Altered 18–19th centuries.
Staindrop Tower house 150116th century Restored Holiday accommodation Probably built as a hunting lodge for the Neville family of Raby Castle.
Scargill Castle Tower house 120113–15th century Fragment Private, farm Amongst farm buildings.
Walworth Castle Sham castle 1601c.1600 Restored Hotel South-west tower and adjoining wall possibly medieval.
Witton Castle Castle 1410c.1410 Restored Caravan site Extended 1790–5. Used as a leisure centre for a caravan site.

Auckland Castle (also known as Auckland Palace or locally as the Bishop's Castle or Bishop's Palace) is a castle in the town of Bishop Auckland in County Durham.

Auckland Castle in County Durham

The castle has been the official residence of the Bishop of Durham since 1832. However, it has been owned by the diocese for more than 800 years, being established as a hunting lodge for the Prince Bishops of Durham. It is more like a Gothic country house than a true castle with a military function. The castle is surrounded by 800 acres of parkland, which was originally used by the Bishops for hunting.

In around 1183 Bishop Pudsey established a manor house on the site. Bishop Bek, who preferred the town as his main residence over Durham Castle due to its proximity to hunting grounds, later converted the manor house into a castle. After the dis-establishment of the Church of England, at the end of the first civil war, Auckland Castle was sold to Sir Arthur Hazelrig, who demolished much of the castle, including the chapel, and built a mansion.

Barnard Castle

Barnard Castle is a ruined medieval castle situated in the town of the same name in County Durham. A stone castle was built on the site of an earlier defended position from around 1095 to 1125 by Guy de Balliol. Between 1125 and 1185 his nephew Bernard de Balliol and his son Bernard II extended the building. In 1216 the castle was besieged by Alexander II of Scotland. It was still held by the Balliol family although its ownership was disputed by the Bishops of Durham. When John Balliol was deposed as King of Scotland in 1296 the castle was passed to the Bishop of Durham. Around 1300 Edward I granted it to the Earl of Warwick. In 1477 during the Wars of the Roses, Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III) took possession of the castle, which became one of his favourite residences.

Over the next two centuries the Nevilles enlarged and improved the estate and created a substantial and impressive castle. However when Charles Neville, 6th Earl of Westmorland was attainted for his leading role in the Rising of the North the Neville estates were sequestered.

Bishopton Castle in County Durham

Bishopton Castle was a medieval castle in County Durham. It was built by Roger de Conyers in 1143, in the village of Bishopton, near to the town of Darlington.[1] Constructed in a motte-and-bailey design, the castle had two baileys, rather than the usual one, and originally had two large enclosures beyond the baileys.[2] In the 12th century it was surrounded by a low artificial lake, fed by the brook to the west, and could only be accessed by causeways.[3] De Conyers built the castle during a dispute with William Cumin, who laid claim to be the Bishop of Durham; de Conyers supported Cumin's rival, William of St. Barbara.[4] Historian Lise Hull believes that the licence to crenellate given to de Conyers for his castle may be the first recorded instance of this in England.[5]

Bowes Castle in County Durham


Bowes Castle was built on the site of a Roman fort that guarded the Stainforth Pass through the Pennines. The castle was constructed between 1171 and 1174. During its history it was besieged twice, once in 1216 and again in 1322. Shortly after the second siege it was abandoned and fell into ruin.

Brancepeth Castle from the east, showing the two 19th-century gate towers (right) and older chapel and curtain walls (centre and left)

Brancepeth Castle is in the village of Brancepeth in County Durham]] some five miles south west of the city of Durham.

A succession of buildings has been on the site. The first was a Norman castle built by the Bulmers, which was rebuilt by the Nevilles in the late 14th century. For many years the castle was owned by the Neville family until in 1569 it was confiscated by the Crown following the family's involvement in the Rising of the North.

Brancepeth Castle in 1782, before its 19th-century expansion
West side of the castle. The 19th-century addition to an older section of the castle can be seen below the left turret.

There have been a number of other owners since that time. In the early 17th century the estate was granted by the Crown to Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset, from whom it subsequently confiscated the castle back due to his involvement in a poisoning scandal. In 1636, three men who had bought the castle from the King's Commissioners in 1633 sold it to Ralph Cole of Newcastle. His grandson, Ralph Cole MP, sold the property in about 1720 to Sir Henry Belaysyse. In 1796 the castle was acquired by the Russells.

The present building is largely a 19th-century restoration carried out in the 1820s by John Matthew Russell and improved in the mid-19th century by architect Anthony Salvin for William Russell, (High Sheriff of Durham in 1841).

Lumley Castle

Lumley Castle is a 14th century quadrangular castle at Chester-le-Street near to the city of Durham. It is named for its original creator, Sir Ralph Lumley, who converted his family manor house into a castle in 1389 after returning from wars in Scotland. However, after being implicated in a plot to overthrow Henry IV he was imprisoned and ultimately executed, forfeiting his lands to the Earl of Somerset. In 1421 the ownership of the Castle reverted to Sir Ralph Lumley's grandson, Thomas.

South−east corner of Walworth Castle

Walworth Castle is a 16th century mansion house, built in the style of a medieval castle and situated at Walworth, County Durham near Darlington. It was completed around 1600, probably by Thomas Holt for Thomas Jenison. It stands on the site of a former manor house or castle built in the 12th century by the Hansard family.

The castle is built of partially rendered limestone rubble, and the roof is of Welsh slate. The west tower is older, and has gunloops, narrow trefoil−headed and round−headed windows. It has a main, south−facing building of five bays and three storeys between two four−storey, round, angle towers, with east and west wings on the north side, making up three sides of a square originally open to the north. However a range of early 19th century buildings on the north side of the square now encloses the courtyard.

Some flagstones of unknown date were discovered in situ in the cellar or basement of the castle in 2002. Internal renovation took place in 1740, so that the interior now has important mid−18th century features, such as Palladian plasterwork and Rococo details. In 1864 the main staircase was rebuilt and the west wing was given a new front.

Witton Castle

Witton Castle is a much altered 15th century castle, which is the centrepiece of a holiday and caravan country park at Witton le Wear near Bishop Auckland.

Sir Ralph Eure obtained a licence to crenellate his manor house in 1410 and created the castle. The castle was held by Royalist Sir William Darcy during the English Civil War. He compounded for the return of his confiscated estate which was sold by his descendant Henry Darcy to William Cuthbert in 1743. The castle later passed to Hopper but was severely damaged in a fire which in 1796 destroyed most of the castle interior.

In 1816 Sir William Chaytor of Croft Hall, Yorkshire purchased the castle estate for £78,000 and restored the fabric and rebuilt the interior in modern style. The estate was rich in coal and Witton Park colliery was sunk in 1825.

Biliography edit

References edit

  1. Hull (2009), p.195.
  2. Pettifer, p.26.
  3. Creighton, p.14.
  4. Pettifer, p.26.
  5. Hull (2006), p.128.