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Northumbria Map

Bamburgh is best seen from afar, preferably on a day when it is not as gray and misty as it was at the time of my visit.

As you get closer the heavy Victorian restoration becomes more and more apparent. And it gets worse when you go inside.

You enter the castle through a series of small rooms which were restored in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth in a fairly restrained, not to say worthy way, by a Doctor Sharpe, a trustee of the Charity School that was based in the castle at that time.

This does nothing to prepare you for the Great or King's Hall built on the site of the medieval hall by the 1st Lord Armstrong, in the best "footballers' wives" tradition.

Armstrong, engineer, inventor and pioneer of hydro-electricity, had risen from humble beginnings to great wealth, mainly from the manufacture of arms (most notably, of course, the Armstrong Gun) as well as ships, locomotives, hydraulic cranes and anything else that moved.

He purchased Bamburgh in 1894, at which time he was living at Gragside in nearby Rothbury, and set about almost completely rebuilding it (with the exception of the Keep). The Great Hall, with its magnificent false hammer-beam roof, wood paneling, tapestries, and baronial fireplace, is an impressive statement of its owner's wealth, but not a place to relax in.

You don't get to see the bathrooms, but I can't help feeling the taps must be gold-plated.

Check the Bamburgh Castle's website for opening times etc.