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Castle: More Detail

 

Armoury.  This is the entrance with the tickets, in the season.  There are many curious weapons and memorabilia.  Go from here, partly upstairs, to the....
 
Still Room.  Here you will find the curious witch who curses those who thieve from Chillingham - and some of the letters from those who thought that it a joke!  There are interesting photographs of Everest and my great Uncle who made that attempt before others, in 1922, dressed in tweeds.  There is the great sled of the explorer Norman Vaughan, and photographs of the great man himself, and his dog harness too.  See, too the giant cooking pot for feeding the Chillingham garrison, and a slightly less massive bowl for pouring oil on unwelcome visitors.  Architects can see the ancient entrance and they might be interested to see there have been quite a few changes of entry to the castle as new commanders had different ideas.  Now, go to the..... 

Dungeon.  On the way you will see a low passage leading to the side and all fallen in.  These passages ran through the thick walls that linked the great towers.  They were filled in as they weakened the walls against cannon fire.  Many recordings of those in this dungeon show that it was for hiding people as well as imprisoning them.  Note the hugely thick oak door with handles on only one side.  Note the scratched diaries on the walls and the 'drop' in the floor leading to deeper chambers.  Back and out to the....

Mediaeval Courtyard.  Below the stone flags, five foot down, is another cobbled flooring, but that space serves as most excellent drainage.  You can clearly see that each tower is separated in the style of stone from the walls between them.  This is because the towers were built in the 12/1300s and the walls between were built in the late 1500s, Elizabethan times, to make the castle into a palace fit to receive the King of Scotland, on his way to the English crown.  The Grey lord of the manor in those days was Queen Elizabeth's Godchild.  Grey was also the Godchild of her great supporter William Cecil whose descendants became the Marquises of Salisbury and of Exeter.  He was the go-between for the English and Scottish courts. You are standing in much embattled surrounds.  The castle had many of its lords executed and yet many were Knights of the Garter, courtiers and great generals.  You must go to the church to see the finest memorial, outside a cathedral, to yet another Grey General, and it is on your way to the Wild Cattle!  Now: 

For TEA turn left from the Mediaeval Courtyard to the Minstrels' Hall.

For the tour, leave the mediaeval Courtyard by the grand central Stairway.  Before 1752 this fine staircase was built over the Moat; on the far side of the Great Hall you will now enter the .....
 
Great Hall. This room was built over the ancient skirting walls and undercrofts for the Royal visit of James V1 of Scotland and many kings have been entertained here.  The walls are hung with weapons and trophies from around the world and remind of the fierce nature of mankind and the origins of this Castle.  Architects will be interested to see the remains of the original gigantic chimney in the South wall and the two small high, protective, windows.  The room's first windows looked over the courtyard, as you can see. Now upstairs, and on the way up the Stairs you will see a prehistoric head of a Wild Bull, of the same prehistoric family as the Wild Cattle in the Chillingham Castle Park.  This animal is about one and a half million years old!  You will also see a stone head of a Saxon age Wild Bull from the Park, muzzled for sacrifice to their pagan gods. Then on upwards to .....

The Garden Look Out. On the roof you will see the layout of the royal favourite Sir Jeffrey Wyatville's garden, you can read about this at great length in the Garden pamphlet. Look at the distant Cheviots and now down to the .........

Edward 1st Room.  That king stayed here with his cousins, our family who lived here. That is why the handsome gothic window was installed.  The king was on his way to capture William Wallace, known in the film world as Brave Heart.  Brave Heart had visited Northumberland the previous year and had herded all the women and children into the local church and burned them to death.  He had made the skin of the local general into a sword-belt.  King Edward 1 was having none of that and lead his troops to successful revenge.  Centuries later, Lord Grey, Earl of Tankerville, was in this room when he was arrested for plotting against King James II.  He bundled the letters he was reading into that hatch in the window and was taken to the Tower of London and condemned to death.  He escaped that and two more execution sentences to become First Lord of the Treasury (Prime Minister) to William III.  In this room the family gathered to escape down a tunnel to the Bastle tower in the grounds.  Now down to ......
 
King James I Room.  This fine Elizabethan room was one of three, adjacent to each other, where the King would receive his guests.  You can see photographs of this room when it was in Victorian hands, and when it was in ruins.  Now, it is returned to an Elizabethan feeling.  King Charles I, only some weeks before his execution, stayed here for three days (in his Dad's rooms!). There is much of interest in this room, and with family heraldic hangings side by side with the modern and antique.  Next room along is ......

The Plaque Room, called for the fine plasterwork armorial plaque dedicated to the Grey family, has various displays and a record and giant head of a Texan Bull.  There are also paintings of the Chillingham Wild Cattle and many photographs of visitors to the castle, and you will recognise many of them.  Once this room was even more elaborate than the yellow silk room next door along.  It would have had a fine four-poster bed where the King will have received his close friends and family. The books often relate to my own family and their exploits including the founding of Australia and New Zealand as a part of our Empire.  Next move to .....

The New Dining Room.  In King James' and King Charles' time this would have been a room for the king to really sleep and wash in.  The royal latrine was in the original tower stairs, as you can see.  The massive guns on the walls are a wonder in themselves and the pictures are of the old Spanish Conquistadores saints.  The whit lions are actual casts of a pair that sold to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and later sold for several millions of pounds.  Next,

The Museum.  Here is a mass of this and that!  Royal liveries, craftsmen's tools, a great clock-works, ticking away, removed from my family home in the Lakes. There are some photographs and paraphernalia of Everest, of Sir Malcolm Campbell's Blue Bird Racing car and the Trophies my family sponsored.  There is a photograph of my great-uncle in the hydro plane he built when he pioneered flight from water and memorabilia from when my father was Comptroller of the Royal Household.  There is too much here to describe, and then go right down, via the Great Hall, to

The Chapel.  We have family services here and it is restored to the chapel it once was.  At one time it was a library and the ghost writer, Lady Tankerville, found it hard to accept that she could not find spirits here as two "grinning skeletons" had been found below the floor boards.  She did not know that they were happy and at rest in their chapel!  Now down to....

The Minstrel's Hall.  You pass along the Minstrel's Gallery, where those minstrels sang to entertain the company below and still we do that.  Look across at the biggest giant Elk in the world.  He is long pre-historic and truly became too big for his boots.  He 'cast' his antlers each year and had to find food to grow them again and there was not enough food around.  The two huge fires once had turning spits for roasting wild animals and we still do that, if Health and Safety are out of the way. This is the Tea Room in the season and it comes back to family use in the Winter and for occasional week-ends, concerts and plays.

Berthele Room.  This is full of prehistoric stones and if you spend time you can work out how the various local tribes traded flint for clay, and how they lived out their lives.  They had superbly made axes, and poorly made ones, just as it might be today with varying craftsmanship.  There are tools made with antler horn too, and fine arrow heads, so curiously similar to those in far parts of the world.  Check out the curious lost room? Now, if you dare and care, through to the......

Torture Chamber.  All castles will have had such rooms.  If you lost a family friend to the enemy, it would be natural to capture one of them and encourage talk?  It is horrid to think that such repression is alive in the world today.  It is horrible to wonder what catastrphe could have been prevented had one who knew paid us a visit?  There are executioners blocks and an Iron Maiden, with her vile interior spikes, and a 'scold's bridle' for gossips and grills and thumb scews. Now out into the fresh air at last?

 

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