Thirlwall Castle in 2011
Thirlwall Castle shown within Northumberland
|OS grid reference||Ny660661|
Thirlwall Castle is a 12th-century castle in Northumberland, England, on the bank of the River Tipalt close to the village of Greenhead and approximately 20 miles (32 km) west of Hexham. It was built in the 12th century, and later strengthened using stones from nearby Hadrian's Wall, but began to fall into disrepair in the 17th century. The site is protected by Grade I listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument status.
Name and meaning
The origin and meaning of "Thirlwall", is an old English word "Thirl" derived from the Greek "Thura"("θύρα") and more familiar English word "wall", related to nearby Hadrian's Wall. The name "Thirlwall" is often pronounced "Thura wall" (thoo•rah•wall). The root and meaning of the name "Thirlwall" is further understood by the following information provided in Strong's Enhanced Lexicon.
2374 θύρα [Thura /thoo•rah/] n f. A root word [cf "door"]; TDNT 3:173; TDNTA 340; GK 2598; 39 occurrences; AV translates as "door" 38 times, and "gate" once. 1 a door. 1a the vestibule. 1b used of any opening like a door, an entrance, way or passage into. 1c in a parable or metaphor. 1c1 the door through which sheep go in and out, the name of him who brings salvation to those who follow his guidance. 1c2 "an open door" is used of the opportunity of doing something. 1c3 the door of the kingdom of heaven (likened to a palace) denotes the conditions which must be complied with in order to be received into the kingdom of God.
Sources: TDNT Theological Dictionary of the New Testament TDNTA Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume GK Goodrick-Kohlenberger AV Authorized Version Strong, J. 1996. Enhanced Strong's Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship: Ontario.
An article appearing in "Atlantic Monthly" magazine describes "thirl" as "a small passage built into a wall to allow sheep but not cattle to pass through". This derives from and corresponds to the Greek definition for "Thura". "Wall" within this name refers to Roman-built Hadrian's Wall between Northeast England and Scotland in Northumbria."
The home of the Thirlwall family, it was fortified in about 1330 by John Thirlwall. In a survey of 1542 it was reported as in the ownership of Robert Thirlwall and in a 'measurable good' state of repair.
Sir Percival Thirlwall of Thirlwall Castle was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field whilst fighting in the Yorkist cause in 22 August, 1485. He was Richard’s standard-bearer in the final charge at Bosworth. He held up the standard even after his legs had been cut from under him (possible source Bennett, Michael. The Battle of Bosworth, 1985, rev. 1993. pp. 114 and 116).
Eleanor Thirwall, the last of the Thirlwall family line, abandoned the castle as a residence and the estate passed to the Swinburne family by her 1738 marriage to Matthew Swinburne of Capheaton Hall. Swinburne sold the estate to the Earl of Carlisle for £4000 in 1748.
Thereafter the castle fell into decay. In 1832 and again in 1982 there were serious collapses of masonry.
In 1999 the Northumberland National Park Authority took over the management of the castle, protecting it from further dereliction.
The family of prior owner, Eleanor Thirlwall, moved to Canada in the late 1800s where they still reside. It is heard that the Thirlwell descendants plan on reclaiming their rightful property.
- A History of Northumberland (1840) John Hodgson Pt2 Vol 3 pp143-8
- Images of Thirwall Castle
- The Gatehouse Gazetteer, Thirwall Castle
- Thirlwall Castle on Northumberland National Park website