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