VISIT  AYDON  CASTLE  WITH ENGLISH  HERITAGE  MEMBERSHIP

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TICKETS & PRICES

Adults: £7.60
Children 5-17 Years: £4.60 
Families (2 adults, up to 3 Children): £19.80 
Families (1 adult, up to 3 Children): £12.20

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Visiting Aydon Castle

 

Visiting Aydon Castle?
Aydon Castle has been open to the public since the 1960s. Set in beautiful, secluded woodland in Northumberland, it remains almost completely intact and provides the most unaltered example of a 14th century English manor house. A wonderful place to picnic and explore, this hidden gem is just a mile from Hadrian's Wall and two miles from additional facilities in Corbridge; it's the perfect location for a day out with your family! Aydon Castle is Grade I Listed and a Scheduled Ancient Monument

 

Parking

Small car park located 100 metres from the site with 20 regular and 6 accessible parking spaces

Parking free for English Heritage members; charges apply to non-members

Insiders' Tip: According to Atlas Obscura, the parking fee is refundable in the castle's visitor centre.

Price

Adult entry w/donation - £6.50, w/o donation - £5.90

Child (5-17 years) w/donation - £3.90, w/o donation - £3.50

Concession and Family pricing available on the official website

English Heritage Members get in free

 

Opening

Opening times typically vary - at the time of posting, the new regular season is not defined.

The 2021 opening date is currently set for 17 May

 

Location & Access

Aydon Castle lies one mile from Corbridge, Northumberland, England, NW of the village centre, north of the A69; 5 miles NE of Hexham, on the A69-B6321.

Follow signs to the castle from A68 Dere Street or the A69 Corbridge Bypass.

The car park is clearly marked.  

For train, bus, and bicycle route access, click here.

Know Before You Go

  • Wheelchair access is restricted to the ground floor only.
  • Pushchairs and dogs on leads are welcome.
  • Picnic benches are available in the orchard and the main area.
  • An accessible toilet and baby changing facilities are available onsite.

Special note: Upon reopening, English Heritage will be operating with new "safety measures" in place:

  • Advanced booking is now required. 
  • The castle will be open as usual, though a one-way route will be in place.
  • Face coverings are required (not provided onsite).

History of Aydon Castle (Time Line)

Aydon Castle has a surviving history dating back to the 10th and 11th centuries when Aydon was centred on Corbridge, part of an important royal manor. The rise of Newcastle upon Tyne in the 12th century caused Corbridge's position to decline, and Aydon was granted to the Barons de Bolam. The history of the stone structure known today prominently surrounds a single family line through a violent period in time before coasting its way through farm life and into preserved heritage status.


 

 

-1225 (Pre-Castle)

The castle was known at this time as the Barony of Bolam. History maintains conflicting records regarding the estate's inheritance-line, but by the early 13th century, Aydon's presence of royal importance had almost disappeared. 

Documentary evidence shows a wooden hall preceded the stone castle, which served as a residence for at least the widow of the last known Barons de Bolam before the family's remaining share in the barony was sold. 

-1284

Hugh de Gosbeck, great-grandson of the last known baron de Bolam, inherits Aydon. 

-Early 1290s 

With property interests in Suffolk, Gosbeck sold the estate to Hugh de Raymes and his son Robert. The failure to seek the King's approval for the transfer delayed the land release until 1296 when it was taken into Royal custody.

-1296 (Manor House Built)

Hugh died in 1295, leaving Robert as the sole owner of Aydon, along with a 60-pound fine incurred for ignoring the transfer law. He adopted the residence as his primary home and began to augment the wooden house into the first stone building at Aydon estates. 

Now known as the solar block, Robert created a two-storey residential range at the east end of the wooden hall adjacent to Cor Burn valley. At the solar corner closest to the valley drop, he built a garderobe block; then added a two-storey hall range with a kitchen and dining hall on the upper floor shortly after. 

Located about 30 miles from the closest point on the Scottish border, Aydon sat in a defensive position on a bluff above the valley. The generations of peace between the neighbouring nations came to an end, but Robert simultaneously fought in Scotland while constructing his manor in 1297 and 1298. 

The region, including Aydon Castle, was continuously raided by the Scots, which led Robert to seek a Royal license to build a fortress around this handsome, generally undefended mansion, which turned it into a castle-like structure.

-1305 (Fortification Begins)

Robert was granted permission to fortify his manor at Aydon and added battlement walls to the north of the property, enclosing the buildings within a courtyard. The inner courtyard wall and domestic buildings within all had parapets installed. An outer curtain wall was built with a plain arched gateway, flanked on the open side by a rectangular tower and a D-shaped angle tower.

Some sources suggest the outer curtain wall was created later, around 1315 after Robert was captured (see below); however, a written account from de Raymes describing Aydon as "lately battlemented with a wall of stone and lime" suggests this work had been completed prior to that occurrence. 

Sadly, since it lay close to one of the main routes to and from Scotland, Aydon was an obvious and choice target for Scottish raiders. And much of Robert's fortification attempts had no assistance. 

-1311-1312 (Castle Raids)

In 1306, rebel Robert the Bruce seized the Scottish throne, and the appointment of the weak, ineffectual Edward II allowed Bruce's rebellion to strengthen. Over the following seven years, the English were largely expelled by Scottish forces, and a series of border raids commenced in Northumberland. 

Aydon and the surrounding area were ravaged by Scottish forces in 1311 and again in 1312; perhaps a credit to Robert's fortification efforts, the castle held out on both occasions. 

-1314-1315 (Attacked)

The catastrophic defeat of the English at the 1314 Battle of Bannockburn further deteriorated the situation in Northumberland. Robert was captured at this time and ransomed for a significant sum of 500 marks, destroying his wealth. 

Robert had left Aydon Castle fully garrisoned by Hugh de Gales and his command of crossbow-armed men. Scots attacked again while Robert was away in 1315, where de Gales ultimately surrendered the castle; it was subsequently pillaged and burned. 

-1317 (Attacked)

This year marks Northumberland's fall into tremendous civil disorder. On 5 December, a weakened Aydon Castle was attacked and captured yet again, but by English raiders who were led by Hugh de Gales--the very same person who failed to defend it just two years prior. 

They wanted to steal the remaining wealth from the site. Everything portable, including even structural woodwork, was toted away, and whatever had been burned and since rebuilt was burned again.

-1324 (Death & Inheritance)

Robert was financially ruined, and when he died in February 1324, the Aydon estate was deemed worthless. His son, also named Robert, inherited the property, and despite its condition, continued to occupy the castle and enhance its defences. 

-1346 (Attacked)

Scottish forces (now under David II) easily captured Aydon Castle once more and inflicted serious damage to the estate.

-1349 (Death & Inheritance) 

Notwithstanding devastation, Robert managed to restore the castle and some of the family fortunes. He died in 1349, leaving Aydon and all reaccumulated wealth to his son, Nicholas de Raymes, positioning him for a prosperous career. 

Nicholas endured financial irregularities due to periodic legal troubles with debt, but a friendship with the Earl of Northumberland, Henry Percy, helped him prosper, which was the high point in history for Aydon Castle. 

-1400s

The family struggled to maintain their position by the fifteenth century. Ultimately, they moved to a home more easily defended and left Aydon Castle occupied by tenants.

-1448 (Attacked; Restoration Begins)

Still exploiting the ease of it, the Scots attack and damage Aydon yet again. At this time, the estate is sold to the Carnaby family who is credited with the significant restoration and redevelopment of the castle.

-Mid-1500s (Maintained)

A lodging block in the central courtyard used for housing guests or soldiers was demolished in the 1540s and renovated shortly thereafter. (Records of ownership are ambiguous at this time.)

-1600s (Castle Converted to Farmhouse)

By the early 1600s, Aydon Castle was rented to tenants once more. In 1654, the estate was sold for £653 to the Collinson family. Records indicate it was likely the Collinson family's decision to convert Aydon Castle into a farmhouse, a conversion that stuck for 300 years.

-1700s

Property value had risen considerably by 1702 when Aydon was sold again to John Douglas for £2,350. It passed to the Blackett family by marriage in 1751, who became the estate's last private owners.

-1830s

Sir Edward Blackett restored and refurbished Aydon, including adaptations to the interior to enhance their performance as farm buildings. The property continued to function as a most unusual farmstead into the 1960s.

-1930s-1960s (Final Estate Passing; Castle Restored)

For three decades, tenants of Aydon experienced a series of tragedies, giving the castle a reputation as a rather unlucky place to live. It became increasingly difficult to rent, prompting Sir Charles Blackett's decision to place the estate in the Ministry of Works' care in 1966. 

The structure then underwent extensive restoration, including removing most of the fittings and fixtures added from the 1800s and beyond to restore its medieval appearance. Today, it stands as one of the most complete and most admirable 14the century manor houses in the nation. English Heritage has since assumed responsibility for its management. 

Aydon Castle Occupants

 

Aydon Castle served as a fortified manor home for the Raymes family for generations. Hugh was the first of his family to inherit the property. His son, Robert, is credited with constructing the stone manor house in 1296 and fortification starting in 1305.

  • 13th century - Robert de Reymes (Builds and fortifies Aydon manor house)
  • 14th century - Robert de Reymes / Nicholas de Raymes
  • 15th century - Ownership transfers to Carnaby family; Castle is rented out to tenants
  • 17th century - Ownership transfers to Collinson family; tenant occupancy
  • 18th century - Ownership transfers to Douglas, then to Blackett family; tenant occupancy
  • 20th century - Tenant occupancy eventually ceases; Blackett yields responsibility to the Government for heritage preservation; open for public viewing

Aydon Castle Images

Aydon Castle Ruins
Aydon Castle

Images Supplied and licensed from Shutterstock Standard Licence Package

Aydon Castle Q&A

What Type of Castle Was Aydon?

Despite its name, Aydon Castle is a medieval fortified manor house. The original structure was a wooden hall, and you can find references to Aydon Castle as Aydon Hall scattered throughout historical records. The hall was eventually replaced with a two-storey stone hall range, which was then fortified and enhanced. 

What Was the Main Use of Aydon?

Aydon Castle was built and designed to be more of a statement of the power and prestige of Robert de Raymes at the start. Nevertheless, given its geographical location and placement in medieval history, the estate seemed destined to become a fortified property. For decades after its construction, it served as a residency for minor gentry. Yet it was captured nearly half a dozen times before its castle status was concluded useless.

Later, Aydon was converted to a farmstead, staying that way until the 1960s when it was opened as a public attraction. 

When Was Aydon Castle First Built?

The original construction of the stone manor house dates back to the final years of the 13th century; however, fortification straddles into the start of the 14th century. Nonetheless, Aydon Castle appears to have been completed within a decade after obtaining a Royal license to build a fortress. Aydon Castle was first built between 1296-1315. 

How Big Was Aydon Castle?

Aydon Castle is considered small compared to others, though the entire estate is somewhat substantial. Robert intended to build a manor house, not a castle. The original solar retains evidence of poor stonework and construction where it meets the new hall, suggesting the building was rushed and possibly done without skilled masons' assistance. 

Kitchen provisions were included at the west end of the hall block, then made redundant when a major expansion from the west end added a large purpose kitchen block extending to the north.

The curtain wall securing Aydon's northern aspect created significant expansion to the overall architecture, and more building ranges were constructed inside the curtain wall, creating the outer courtyard. Very few changes through seceding centuries preserved Aydon's basic structure and layout along with its medieval features.

Why Does This Castle Look Familiar?

Even if you've never visited Aydon, the site may seem familiar, as Aydon Castle was used for some shooting in both the 1998 movie Elizabeth, as well as the 1997 TV series Ivanhoe

Does Aydon Castle Still Exist? 

Restored and maintained to its former glory, Aydon Castle stands today as a first-rate example of a 14th century fortified manor house. Its layout is clearly visible, and visitors are treated to a rare glimpse into the homestead of minor gentry from centuries ago.

 

Location of Aydon Castle

Aydon Castle sits on a bluff that drops abruptly on three sides to Cor Burn valley as it flows southwest towards its junction with the River Tyne. It's one and a half miles northeast of Corbridge, but the local topography requires looping around east on the B6321, then north on minor roads which end at a car park short of the castle by about 100 metres. 

From the car park, a farm track leads you to the castle. The view rapidly expands to display the northwest curtain wall, which is the same view available to the castle's many attackers--all those who did not fancy the steep-sided valley approach. On the other side of the track sits an extensive farmstead, which may have been built from the same stones as the Aydon Castle.

Additionally, Halton Castle and the Onnum Roman Fort earthwork remains are a short, one-mile walk away.