Believed to be the most horrific place in Europe, the Chillingham Castle has seen many wars, deaths and tortures since the 12th century

Chillingham Castle is a medieval castle in the village of Chillingham in the northern part of Northumberland, England. At first a 12th century stronghold, Chillingham became a fully fortified Castle in the 14th Century.

It was the seat of the Grey and Bennet families from the 15th century until the 1980s.

A large enclosed park on the castle grounds is home to the Chillingham Cattle, a rare breed, consisting of about 90 head of cattle.

Chillingham Castle. All photos: Thomas Quine/Flickr

Chillingham Castle. All photos: Thomas Quine/Flickr

 

 

Castle cottage
Castle cottage

 

Chillingham churchyard
Chillingham churchyard

With its strategic location near the coast and the English-Scottish border, this castle played a major role in the bloody war between the English and Scots in the 14th century.

It was used as a staging post for English armies entering Scotland but was also repeatedly attacked and besieged by Scottish armies and raiding parties heading south.

The castle’s grand entrance was built in the 17th century, with its beautiful landscaped park being laid out later by Sir Jeffery de Wyatville, the architect of Windsor Castle, in the early part of the 19th century.

 

Medieval oxcart
Medieval oxcart

 

Ancient carriage
Ancient carriage

 

Castle doorknocker
Castle doorknocker

 

Medieval artifacts
Medieval artifacts

 

Throughout the centuries the architectural detail and massive walls have remained largely unchanged with its same underlying medieval strength and character.

12th century fireplace detail
12th-century fireplace detail

 

Castle dining hall
Castle dining hall

 

Cabinet and bones
Cabinet and bones

The torture chamber is one of the most horrific and intriguing places in the castle. There are still many of the torture devices displayed here and most of them are still in perfect working order.

Each of the numerous torture devices used in this room is each more horrific than the last. These include a stretching rack, a bed of nails, a spiked chair, an Iron Maiden, thumb screws, chains, leg irons, cages, man traps and branding irons.

Chair of nails
Chair of nails

 

Medieval rack torture
Medieval rack torture

 

Mangle used for torturing hands
Mangle used for torturing hands

It is estimated that over 7500 Scots, including men, women and children of all ages were tortured and killed in this dungeon over a three-year period.

 

Nail boots
Nail boots

 

Bed of nails
Bed of nails

 

Barrel of nails. The victim would be put in the barrel and the barrel rolled down a hill
Barrel of nails. The victim would be put in the barrel and the barrel rolled down a hill

In World War II the castle was used as an army barracks, during this time, much of the decorative wood is said to have been stripped out and burned by the soldiers billeted there. After the war, the castle began to fall further into disrepair.

WWII gas mask for infant
WWII gas-mask for infant

It wasn’t until 1982 that Sir Humphrey Wakefield, whose wife, Lady Mary Tankerville, a descendant of the Grey family, was allowed to take over the decaying ruin… and so began a restoration project.

The castle has survived for over 800 years. Today, Sections of the castle are open to the public for private and public events.

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