Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle panorama
Bamburgh Castle panorama

On the last morning of our Northumbrian weekend, the May Day Holiday, we parted company. Valerie and Kenn headed south to Yorkshire, via Newcastle for a family visit, and we decided to visit Bamburgh Castle before setting off for home. Now, I knew I hadn’t been to Lindisfarne or Alnwick Castle before but I was sure I had been to Bamburgh. However, I didn’t recognise it at all inside and can only conclude I’ve only viewed it from outside where it dominates the coastal views for miles.

There is evidence that this area has been occupied for over 10,000 years, but the oldest building now goes back “only” to the Normans, a keep (tower) that remains the heart of the castle, but with many additions over the centuries. Its character today, however, has been determined by 19th century industrialist Lord Armstrong. He bought the castle from distant relatives in 1894 and set about restoring it, having already built a country manor – Cragside, also worth a visit – which was the first house in the world to be lit by hydro-electricity. He wanted Bamburgh to be just as up-to-date, and invented and installed air conditioning and central heating systems. £1m later, he died with his dream still incomplete. His heir finished the work and the Armstrongs still live there today. Let’s take a walk round.

The first thing we did on arrival was stroll along the Battery Terrace. The castle, as you can already see, is blessed with a wonderful sea view.

Then we turned left to visit the State Rooms – a few external details to admire first.

Inside, by far the most impressive room is the King’s Hall, a 19th century construction but sitting on the footprint of the original Great Hall. Nothing but the best in materials – the ceiling weighs 300 tons, is made of Siamese teak and held together with over 1300 oak pins. The stained glass window adorns the minstrel’s gallery. Rather cosier is the Billiard Room with its spectacular fireplace to keep the players warm.

At this point we tried to visit the café, but it’s quite small and was jam-packed with Bank Holiday Monday visitors so we visited the rest of the grounds first. (When we went back, the lunch was very good – better than Alnwick Castle’s café. These things matter to me!)

A small camp was set up for a military re-enactment, and suddenly it burst into life! Those pesky Scots were invading…… 😉

Below the windmill around the camp there were archaeological digs to look at and we also toured the Armstrong and Aviation museum which thrilled one member of the party more than the other. After that, we headed back out and turned left to take the walk underneath the castle walls and down onto the beach. I can’t decide if it’s more imposing close up or from a distance.

Finally, we walked along the almost-deserted beach as far as we thought practical given that we had a two and a half hour drive ahead of us.

The island we could see is Inner Farne. I’ve only been out to the Farne Islands once, on a school trip when I was about 14. When I look back, I shudder at the health and safety standards. We might complain about pernickety details now, but things have improved so much.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my brief Northumbrian interlude. Of the three places we visited – Bamburgh, Alnwick and Lindisfarne – the last-named was definitely my favourite, but I’d happily return to them all.

Linked to Jo’s Monday Walks where you can visit more wonderful places from Yorkshire to Japan.


56 thoughts on “Bamburgh Castle

  1. TanGental June 6, 2016 / 12:12

    we ‘did’ Alnwick just after the first Potter film came out and the kids went bananas at the thought they were on hallowed turf. Weirdest thing ever, they didn’t want to leave a stately home before us!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. hilarymb June 6, 2016 / 15:01

    Hi Anabel – I went to Lindisfarne and here Bamburgh in the 70s but I’m not sure we went in – it was stinking hot … far too hot to do anything! But it’s an area I really should spend more time in … wonderful photos and tour … thanks – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh June 6, 2016 / 15:08

      Sounds like it could have been the sweltering summer of 1976!


  3. Liesbet June 6, 2016 / 16:03

    The combination castles and ocean is hard to beat! And, you had some blue skies as well. wonderful! Good to know that the food is better at Bamburgh!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh June 6, 2016 / 17:34

      It is definitely a beautiful combination. We were lucky with the weather – cold, but bright.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. ms6282 June 6, 2016 / 19:08

    I hope you weren’t a devious scouting party for those “devious Scots”!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. claudiabookwright June 6, 2016 / 20:07

    Wonderful pictures! And, though imposing from afar, it must have been down right threatening to think one might be called on to attack from the base of the cliff.


    • Anabel Marsh June 6, 2016 / 20:29

      Yes, I imagine that would be terrifying! Thanks for the comments.


  6. Sarah Ferguson and Choppy June 6, 2016 / 22:29

    How beautiful!

    What kind of archaeology are they doing there? Just digging up to see how they used to live? Or is there a more specific purpose?


    • Anabel Marsh June 6, 2016 / 23:00

      Because the site has been occupied so long they can dig back down through the layers – currently about 9th century! It’s used for educational purposes too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sarah Ferguson and Choppy June 7, 2016 / 04:42

        So cool! I suspect they find some amazing things. Or at least, figure out some amazing things about life all that way back. I think I would love to see something like that going on in person.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Birgit June 7, 2016 / 04:55

    Gosh…this is so beautiful and moody and romantic looking. It does look imposing from the beach area but I expect to read about this in some gothic novel


  8. Pit June 8, 2016 / 16:47

    Absolutely wonderful. Btw, weren’t some scenes of Roman Polanski’s “Macbeth” shot on the beach in front of Bamburgh Castle?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Alex Hurst June 8, 2016 / 20:40

    Wow…. I thought the outside was impressive… but just look at that interior! Makes me wish we could all still live in places like that (now I know all of these existed, and were able to be that grand, by a massive separation between income brackets, but if we could make it work for everyone!) Gorgeous.


  10. restlessjo June 9, 2016 / 21:30

    On Bank Holidays you can always rely on the odd pesky Scot or some other sword swiping warrior, Anabel. Livens things up a bit 🙂 I like it but it does test out the tea rooms. I can’t honestly remember whether I’ve been inside Bamburgh. I suspect not. You wouldn’t believe it was just up the road from us, would you? Actually it’s probably not much different in distance than for you. I can defer visiting a while longer now I’ve got your report, can’t I? Many thanks for your persistence. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh June 9, 2016 / 21:55

      Yes, wait till you’ve forgotten all about it then it will be a lovely surprise!


      • restlessjo June 9, 2016 / 21:58

        I’ve been trying to get up to the Roman Wall for about 10 years. Easier to get my husband to the Algarve 😦 Many thanks for your link Anabel 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Becky B June 10, 2016 / 09:34

    wow what a glorious castle, and I suspect only half of my party would be interested in the museum too!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh June 10, 2016 / 10:53

      So your husband’s not into engineering then? 😉 I like it when they have old pictures of the staff which lets me concentrate on the human aspect while he looks at the bits of metal.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. rosemaylily2014 June 11, 2016 / 06:41

    Great post Anabel! I have never been to Bamburgh Castle so very interested to read all about it. For some reason, although I grew up in Yorkshire, we didn’t really venture up this way when I was younger – our family holidayed initially in Wales and later Somerset and Devon though I know my parents have subsequently visited the north east a a fair bit. I can imagine Vikings invading or the Scots for that matter! The beaches look so beautiful in a wild and windswept way! The interior of the castle is amazing – can’t imagine living in all that space!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh June 11, 2016 / 07:42

      I was actually born in Northumberland, lived in various parts of the NE growing up and still had never been! We spent our summer holidays with relatives in Scotland so I feel I’m only now filling in gaps in my knowledge of England.

      I’m not sure I’d like living here even with all its Victorian “mod cons”. I’d get lost! Lindisfarne Castle was much more homely.

      Liked by 1 person

      • rosemaylily2014 June 13, 2016 / 06:24

        Yes I’d prefer the more “homely” castle too – it would be lovely to wander round Bamburgh but not to live in! Always the way – you live in a place and don’t get to see some of the well known local attractions! Glad you’ve been able to visit now and write it all up for the blog – lovely photos! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  13. inesephoto June 12, 2016 / 17:38

    Magnificent castle and breathtaking location!


  14. Peta Kaplan June 12, 2016 / 19:06

    Gorgeous post! Love the castle photos and the expanse of beach!!


  15. Beth Walsh's Photoblog June 13, 2016 / 02:26

    Just another humble abode! Glad to see those pesky Scots are keeping you on your toes, not to mention lunch and an awesome beach walk. Great post Anabel.


  16. jazzfeathers June 26, 2016 / 08:39

    Another truly fantastic place. It looks beautiful inside and outside 🙂

    And you know? I thinkit’s really great that, although the family still live there, they allow people to visit the castle. I have this funny idea that if a place it’s historical, it shoudl belonge to everyone, and by this I don’t necessarily mean that the state should own it, but that everyone should have the possibility to visit and to learn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh June 26, 2016 / 08:45

      I agree – though I suspect they have some nice, comfortable apartment somewhere that doesn’t have all the tourists tramping through!


  17. Dina October 12, 2016 / 14:04

    A lovely post, Anabel. We visited Lindisfarne two years ago and now we plan to spend a stop at Bamburgh Castle and the Farne Islands on our way to Scotland next year.


  18. Sartenada February 17, 2017 / 10:20

    Wow. I am speechless – so gorgeous.


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