Did you know that Newcastle Upon Tyne had a castle? The clue is in the…
Recently we spent our holidays at Haggerston Castle in Northumberland. While we were we went to visit Warkworth Castle as we had never been before. When we went one of the English Heritage Knights and Jousts events was on. These happen every summer at different English Heritage properties. The event was a Medieval Courtly Combat event. Knights took part in a medieval ‘Tournament of Foote’ which we thought would be interesting.
Warkworth Castle is in the village of Warkworth and can be found on raised ground in a loop of the river Coquet. You can easily spot it as you travel though the village. The castle is impressive, a large part of it is still intact. Warkworth Castle was originally home to the Percy family who now live at Alnwick castle, a family who played a large part in the history of Northumberland.
We got to the castle as the event was starting. There were flags fluttering in the breeze outside the castle and a lot of people waiting to go in. Parking costs £3 and it is advisable to have £1 coins. The machine did not like change and it took me ages to pay as my coins were spat out. English Heritage members will get a refund on the parking cost when they show their membership cards on the way in. Entrance is free for English Heritage members. If you are not a member the prices are:
- Adult: £6.20
- Child (5-15) £3.70
- Concession: £5.60
- Family: £16:10
Entrance to the castle is across a drawbridge over a moat.
Inside Warkworth Castle
Inside people were busy setting up for the event. We saw plenty of tents and banners. One tent was a shop with a selection of kids toys and food inside. Plenty of children were wandering around with swords and armour after visiting the shop. I treated myself to a bottle of Celtic Mead, a drink I have always wanted to try.
While we were waiting for things to start we went to explore the castle. To get to the intact part of the castle you have to go though underground chambers. Apparently these are haunted and dogs are often scared to go into them. We had our dog with us and he wasn’t at all bothered. Obviously it was too sunny for ghosts that day.
You get a good view over the courtyard from the windows of the castle as well as a spectacular view across the Northumberland countryside and coast .
Inside the castle all the rooms are labelled so you know what they were. This is the Great Hall.
There are two floors and the rooms are remarkably intact, you get a really good sense of what it must have been like to live here. There are different informational boards in each room in the castle. My favourite one gave a description of the different people who lived in the castle. When it got to the servants it said: “we can’t tell you what we do as we are far too busy.”
The Medieval Event
When we got outside again we found a tent where you could try holding the different weapons and trying on armour. My son was not impressed by the helmet, he said it was too hot. It made you realise how difficult fighting in armour must have been. He was more impressed by the sword and battle axe and was very keen to try holding those.
We noticed that the archery event was begining. Everyone taking part was in medieval costume and it was interesting to see the bows in action. By this time a lot of people had arrived to watch.
I loved the fact that even the children were dressed up authentically. It was a nice touch.
There were plenty of other events happening later including a fight with the swords and a chance for the children to take part but sadly the dog was getting restless and hot so we had to go. Normally when you visit Warkworth Castle you can also visit the Hermitage, a cave and chapel of a solitary holy man which is accessible only by river. This is currently shut at the moment so we did not get the chance.
We really enjoyed our visit to Warkworth Castle, it was really interesting and the medieval event really brought history to life. You can find details of all the English Heritage Events and properties on their website http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/
Disclosure: I was sent a pass to give me entry to Warkworth Castle in order to do an honest review. I was not told what to write and my opinions are my own.