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Lumley Castle: A Historic Gem Transformed into a Charming Hotel

Lumley Castle on a copperplate print in the 18th century Lumley Castle, a 14th-century quadrangular castle situated in Chester-le-Street, North England, is a sight to behold. Originally a family manor house, it was converted into...

Lumley Castle Lumley Castle on a copperplate print in the 18th century

Lumley Castle, a 14th-century quadrangular castle situated in Chester-le-Street, North England, is a sight to behold. Originally a family manor house, it was converted into a castle by Sir Ralph Lumley in 1389 upon his return from wars in Scotland. Despite its turbulent past of imprisonment and execution, the castle stands today as a Grade I listed building and a remarkable hotel.

A Storied History

Lumley Castle Lumley Castle in 2005

The castle's illustrious history is intertwined with notable figures and captivating tales. Sir Ralph Lumley's grandson, Thomas, regained ownership of the castle in 1421. Later, during the time of John Lumley, 1st Baron Lumley, remarkable renovations took place, including the addition of larger windows to illuminate the castle's interiors and the installation of a magnificent marble fireplace in the great hall. These enhancements paid homage to the Lumley coat of arms, featuring a pelican.

The castle also has a fascinating connection to King James VI and I of England. On his journey from Newcastle upon Tyne to Durham in 1603, the king briefly visited Lumley Castle as a guest of Lord Lumley. While the king did not spend the night, the historic moment is commemorated in the King James Suite hotel room.

Evolving Through the Centuries

The Georgian era brought architectural alterations to Lumley Castle, widely attributed to Sir John Vanbrugh. Notably, the library, now the renowned Black Knight Restaurant, showcases Vanbrugh's brilliance. These modifications reflect the castle's rich heritage and its ability to adapt to changing times.

In the 19th century, Lumley Castle became the residence of the Bishop of Durham, serving as a hall of residence for University College, Durham. Students fondly remember their time at Lumley Castle, and the castle's significance in the college's history is celebrated with the biannual 'Lumley Run.'

Lumley Castle Today

Lumley Castle Lumley Castle at night

Lumley Castle underwent a transformation in 1976 when it was turned into a charming 73-bedroomed hotel managed by No Ordinary Hotels. The present Lord Scarbrough is the proud owner of this picturesque establishment. Its enchanting ambience also sets the stage for the nearby Riverside Ground, home to Durham County Cricket Club, which often welcomes visiting cricket teams.

Adding to the castle's allure, since 2019, visitors can experience the thrill of an Escape Game within the castle's old beer cellar. The game, created in collaboration with Escape Rooms Durham, tells the story of Lily of Lumley and opened on St. Valentine's Day, offering guests a unique adventure.

A Haunting Legacy

Among the tales surrounding Lumley Castle is its reputation for being one of the most haunted places in County Durham. Legend has it that the castle's grounds witnessed a tragedy when a woman named Lily Lumley, the supposed wife of Ralph Lumley, was thrown down a well by two priests for rejecting the Catholic faith. Her ghost is said to haunt the castle, emerging from the very well that ended her life.

Over the years, visitors, including cricketers staying at the castle, have reported paranormal activities and eerie experiences. The castle's haunting ambiance and captivating stories have left a lasting impression, captivating the imagination of all who visit.

Discover the Magic of Lumley Castle

Lumley Castle stands as a testament to centuries of history and the resilience of its architecture. Today, this enchanting castle beckons visitors from near and far to immerse themselves in its timeless charm. Whether you choose to stay in one of its luxurious rooms or explore its historic grounds, the magic of Lumley Castle is sure to leave an indelible mark on your memory.

References:

  • Margot Johnson. "Lumley Castle" in Durham: Historic and University City and surrounding area. Sixth Edition. Turnstone Ventures. 1992. ISBN 094610509X. Page 40.
  • "Fortress Britain". The Guardian. 9 December 2000.
  • Pevsner: The Complete Broadcast Talks: Architecture and Art on Radio and Television, 1945-1977 (2014)

Official website

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