Lumley Castle

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Lumley Castle

Lumley Castle is a 14th-century quadrangular castle at Chester-le-Street in the North of England, near to the city of Durham and a property of the Earl of Scarbrough. It is a Grade I listed building.[1]


Lumley Castle on a copperplate print in the 18th century
Lumley Castle in 2005

It is named for its original creator, Sir Ralph Lumley, who converted his family manor house into a castle in 1389 after returning from wars in Scotland. However, after being implicated in a plot to overthrow Henry IV he was imprisoned and ultimately executed, forfeiting his lands to the Earl of Somerset. In 1421 the ownership of the Castle reverted to Sir Ralph Lumley's grandson, Thomas.

By the nineteenth century, the castle had become the residence of the Bishop of Durham, after Bishop Van Mildert gave his residence of Durham Castle to the newly founded University of Durham. The castle thus became a hall of residence for University College, Durham. Castlemen, as the students of University College, Durham are known, spent their first year at Lumley Castle and subsequent years in the Castle at Durham. Lumley Castle was sold in the 1960s by University College to fund the building of the 'Moatside' residential halls in central Durham, in order to keep all students on the same site.[2] The role of Lumley Castle in University College's history is still commemorated by students in the biannual 'Lumley Run'.

The castle was the historic seat of the Earls of Scarbrough.


In 1976, management of the castle was handed over to No Ordinary Hotels (although the property is still in the possession of Lord Scarbrough), who had the castle turned into the 73-bedroomed hotel it is today. It is also a picturesque backdrop for Durham County Cricket Club's Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground, which was first used in 1995, and often houses visiting cricket teams.[3]


The castle is believed to one of the most haunted places in County Durham.[4][5] Legend has it that the castle is haunted by the ghost of Lily Lumley, Ralph's wife, who was thrown down a well in the castle grounds by two priests for rejecting the Catholic faith.[6] Knowing they would be in trouble, the priests told Sir Ralph that she left him to become a nun. Her ghost is said to float up from the well and haunts the castle.[7]

In 2000 and 2005 visiting cricketers staying at the castle claimed to have witnessed paranormal activity.[2][8][9] Several members of the 2005 Australian tour party recounted the strong effect its reputation and setting had on them.[10]

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Coordinates: 54°51′17″N 1°33′11″W / 54.85472°N 1.55293°W / 54.85472; -1.55293