Edlingham Castle

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameEdlingham Castle
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishEdlingham

The monument known as Edlingham Castle includes the hall, solar tower, curtain wall and gatehouse of a late 13th to 14th century fortified manor and an outer defensive earthwork. Included within the courtyard are drains and the remains of service buildings dating to all periods of occupation. Earlier examples survive as buried features beneath 16th century upstanding remains. The earliest standing remains are those of the hall. Built between c.1295 and 1300, this structure stood on the south side of a cobbled courtyard and was a rectangular building with octagonal corner turrets. Only a fragment of the south-east turret survives to any height, but the building would originally have been two storeyed, the ground floor consisting of an undercroft used for storage, and the first floor including the public and private apartments of the lords of the manor of Edlingham. In the mid-14th century a curtain wall and projecting gatehouse were built to enclose the hall and courtyard, thereby strengthening the rampart which originally surrounded the manor and survives as an earthwork measuring c.12m wide by c.1m high. Only the base of the curtain wall and gatehouse remain standing, but enough of the latter survives to show that it included three arches, the central retaining the groove for a portcullis. A variety of service buildings would have existed within the courtyard, round the inner face of the curtain wall, and would have included, for example, kitchens, accommodation for servants and men-at-arms, stabling, a brewhouse, a bakehouse, and shelter for livestock. The foundations of those service buildings that are currently visible are 16th century and date from the replanning of the courtyard ranges after 1514. Their construction involved the demolition of earlier structures, possibly timber or timber-framed, whose remains now survive as buried features within the courtyard. The tower was built in the mid to late 14th century

It was built adjacent to the earlier hall to provide private accommodation for the owner and his family. Because of its role in providing such private living space it is known as a 'solar' tower. This building, whose north and west walls survive almost to their full height, is roughly square and includes a forebuilding on the north side and stepped diagonal buttresses at each corner, each originally surmounted by a circular bartizan or battlemented turret. The forebuilding originally connected with the hall and also contained the stairs that provided access to each floor and the parapet around the roof. The tower is three storeyed, the ground floor being unusual in that, instead of functioning as a storeroom, it was clearly a comfortable private chamber containing a decorated fireplace, a garderobe or latrine and a recessed window with seats. The first floor chamber, which served as the hall or public room, is equally well- appointed with the remains of an elaborate fireplace and a double line of windows, the larger lower ones having seats. The second floor room is simpler, having a plainer fireplace. The original hall and fortifications were built by William Felton after he purchased the manor from Thomas de Edlingham in 1295. It remained the principal residence of his family until c.1402 when historical records suggest it was split between two households, each concurrently occupying either the tower house or the hall. In 1514, the estate was purchased by the Swinburnes who rebuilt the courtyard buildings and lived at Edlingham until c.1630. By 1661, the buildings were being dismantled for their stone. The standing remains have been in State care since 1975 and are also a Grade I Listed Building. (Scheduling Report)

Castle: Hall house probably c.1295-1300 for William Felton, on earlier moated site; curtain wall and gatehouse mid C14; solar tower perhaps c.1400; courtyard ranges re-planned in C16. Squared stone with cut dressings. Rectangular hall- house with octagonal corner turrets; quadrangular court on north with domestic ranges on east and north and projecting gatehouse in centre of north curtain; square solar tower on south.

Apart from the solar tower and a tall fragment of the south-east turret of the hall house, the buildings are reduced to walls 1-2 metres high; the gates passage has the chamfered jambs of 3 arches, the central with a portcullis groove. The cobbled courtyard with its drains is well preserved.

The north and west walls of the solar tower stand to full height; at each angle a large stepped diagonal buttress carrying a corbelled-out circular bartizan, and in the centre of the north side a projecting rectangular stair turret carried up above parapet height. Externally, the north wall shows remains of pointed doorways from ground and 1st floors of lobby linking the tower to the earlier hall house; further doorways and chamfered loops in the turret. West wall shows 2 small square windows at 1st floor level. Interior: ground-floor fireplace with an elaborately joggled lintel, garderobe, window recess with seats and remains of segmental vault on chamfered ribs. 1st-floor Great Chamber shows remains of an elaborate fireplace, with joggled lintel on head corbels, arched mural recess containing a well, double-level fenestration (the larger lower windows with seats) and a lofty groined vault on head corbels. 2nd-floor chamber has a simpler fireplace.

Historical notes: William Felton purchased the manor from Thomas de Edlingham in 1295, and it remained the principal residence of his family until the early C15. The Swinburnes acquired the estate in 1514 and it became their seat until c.1630; the buildings were being pulled down in 1661.

The duplication of suites of private apartments between hall house and solar tower is an interesting feature; historical evidence suggests division of the castle between 2 autonomous households in 1402. (Listed Building Report)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNU116092
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved

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Guide Books

  • Smith, John, 1993, Edlingham Castle (Leaflet)

Primary Sources

  • 1415, Nomina Castrorum et Fortaliciorum infra Comitatum Northumbrie online transcription
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 357


  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 1 Alnwick District p. 17-19