Castle In Hexham, Northumberland
A 17th-century Jacobean mansion disguided as a castle just north of Hexham.
If you are heading nearby Hexham and you have always wanted to see a huge Jacobean mansion masquerading as a castle, then take a quick detour to Chipchase Castle.
The Castle sits between Barrasford and Wark with rolling parkland down to the River North Tyne and is currently privately owned with the family still living in the house. But what makes the castle interesting is the pele tower built in on the North West corner.
The Heron family constructed a four-storey battlemented tower house on these grounds back in the 14th century. Then Cuthbert Heron (High Sheriff of Northumberland in 1625) knocked this house down and built the mansion you see today, but kept the pele tower and attached it to the new house.
Chipchase Castle village today is only a few farms but started life in the early Bronze Age and the population built up in the by Roman times. No mention is made until the 13th century when there was a chapel, a park and a mill.
The castle has belonged to many families including relations of Charles Grey, (from Howick Hall) former prime minister and had a tea named after him. On a tour of the house, you will be shown 4 rooms of the house and told of its history and contents.
The pele tower on the corner is part of the house including the addition of fake windows to make it blend in with the house. You can only get up to the first floor but you can get an idea how it might of looked in its day.
There is a chapel on the grounds and was rebuilt by John Reed (1734-1754) and is where many of the family are buried. A memorial window dedicated to Captain Hugh Taylor who was killed in action on 18th December 1914. He is buried in Fleurbaix, France. Today the chapel has 4 services a year and also hosts weddings.
As mentioned, the castle is private and is only open during June with access to the house on a tour every half hour. £8 per person will get you on the tour then you are free to look round the gardens, chapel and pele tower.
Please note you can not take photos of inside the house.
View the Chipchase Castle website for opening times and more information including the family history.
If you want to see where the Heron family lived then just a few miles down the road is the ruined Simonburn Castle.
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There is a dedicated car park for the castle.
Contributed by Ashley Lightfoot
I love history, exploring churches, castles and ruins with my camera in tow. I am a member of English Heritage. Northumberland is my second home and any chance I get, I'm up there with my Dad, who volunteers with the national park, discovering a little something with a story behind it. The rest of my time, I'm just a simple greenkeeper!
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