Castle of the Week 44 – Aydon Castle

Aydon Castle stands amongst woods on the edge of a ravine down to the Cor Burn near Corbridge, Northumberland and is one of the finest examples of an English 13th century manor house.

A wooden house was built on the site by Hugh de Reymes, a Suffolk merchant who had bought some land in Northumberland, in the mid 13th Century. His son, Robert, converted it into an undefended stone manor house in 1296. There had been a long period of peace but unfortunately almost as soon as the house was completed, the peace was broken in 1305 and the border raids and Scots invasions started again. He applied for permission from Edward I to fortify his house which was readily given.

As three sides of the house were on the edge of the ravine, he only had one undefended side and filled the gap with a curtain wall and two flanking towers, one rectangular and one D-shaped which created an outer bailey. An inner bailey was formed by the building of a two-storey hall and a kitchen wing. Water was no problem as there were several underground springs that could be tapped from within the castle.

In 1315 it was pillaged and burnt by the Scots. Two years later, English rebels seized it back and some repairs took place. It was sacked once again in 1346. However the Scots didn’t have it all their own way. Their attacks were rebuffed many times and prisoners were thrown into the ravine. However, the constant raids impoverished the family so little was done to alter the original buildings until the mid 16th century when a few renovations were made. In the 17th century it was bought by the Canaby and Collinson families who converted it into a farmhouse which it remained until 1966.

In recent times, it has been run by English Heritage and opened to the public where you can see the hall, various chambers, the kitchens, servants’ accommodation and even the medieval toilets. It was used in the film Elizabeth and the 1998 BBC serial of Ivanhoe.

Write-up provided by GillB. Pictures courtesy of Jayhawk.