When approaching Warkworth from the north, crossing the medieval stone bridge which spans the River Coquet, the castle looms magnificently over the grey slate roof tops of the town.
The name, Warkworth originally appears, in the 12th century, as Werceworde, meaning, enclosure or homestead of a woman called Werce. This was also the name of an 8th century abbess who is believed to have given a sheet of fine linen to the Venerable Bede to be used for his shroud.
The first castle on this site was probably built by Henry, Earl of Northumberland, in approximately 1139 and was a timbered motte and bailey construction. He later rebuilt the curtain wall in stone.
Although nearly all the engineers, masons and carpenters or even the costs are unknown, there were various periods of construction where a great deal of money was spent on its stone buildings.
Sometime after 1199 when Robert fitzRichard, Sheriff of Northumberland, had acquired the manor of Warkworth for 300 marks from King John, a building programme was initiated to include the great gateway, western part of the present south wall, Carrick-Fergus Tower, Keep and sundry other improvements. These were put to the test in 1327, when Scottish raiders besieged the castle twice without success.
In 1332 Henry, the second Lord Percy, is thought to have had the gatehouse heightened, the curtain walls strengthened and the east curtain flanked by the Grey Mare's Tail Tower, as well as rebuilding much of the Keep. This work appears to have continued under the third Lord Percy and, according to Dr. W. Douglas Simpson, the heraldic evidence strongly suggests that the great donjon was built soon after 1380.
This work is attributed to the architect John Lewyn, as there was no other mason of first rank known to have been in practice in the north of England at that time.
In 1489 the fifth earl who was known as "The Magnificent", undertook considerable works. The porch at the entrance to the great hall in the bailey was heightened and its front decorated with the Percy lion,
thus taking the name of the Lion Tower.
A staircase was made and the north curtain wall rebuilt and the great hall, the keep and other houses in the bailey were repaired.
The castle seems to have remained in reasonable condition until the middle of the 16th century, thereafter gradually falling into general neglect and partly demolished.
Although its history during the Civil War is unclear, the castle was never-the-less damaged by raiding Scotts who occupied the castle, and then further damage was done by Parliamentary troops before leaving it in late 1648. The owner, Algernon Percy, unsuccessfully applied in 1649 for compensation.
In the 19th century, Charles Seymour had the castle refurbished, to be used as his northern residence. The architect Anthony Salvin was commissioned to restore the keep, but the idea was
given up in favour of Alnwick Castle.
It is now in the care of English Heritage and is open to the public.
English &Welsh Castle Picture Search Results
Your Search returned 10 pictures.
Click on a picture to enlarge and order