Lumley Castle

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Lumley Castle
Lumley Castle Logo.png
Lumley Castle Hotel - - 1188877.jpg
Lumley Castle is located in County Durham
Lumley Castle
Location within County Durham
Hotel chain No Ordinary Hotels
General information
Status Hotel
Type Castle
Architectural style Quadrangular castle
Town or city Chester-le-Street
Owner Earl of Scarbrough
Other information
Number of rooms 73

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] It is currently a hotel.


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.

During the time of John Lumley, 1st Baron Lumley, he altered the windows of the castle to let more light in, installed a new fireplace in the great hall along with a lavabo of black and white marble, adorned by a pelican, which is the crest of the Lumley coat of the arms.[2] On the accession of James VI and I as King of England in 1603, he journeyed from Edinburgh to London to take his new throne. On 13 April, en route from Newcastle upon Tyne to Durham, he stopped briefly at the castle as a guest of Lord Lumley. The King James Suite hotel room commemorates this connection with the king, however the suite was previously the chapel; indeed the king did not stay at Lumley overnight, instead travelling later that day and staying at Durham Castle.[3]

Although there are no documents to prove it, the Georgian alterations to the castle are attributed to Sir John Vanbrugh, particularly the library, which is now the Black Knight Restaurant.[4]

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.[5] The role of Lumley Castle in University College's history is still commemorated by students in the biannual 'Lumley Run'.


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.[6]


The castle is believed to be one of the most haunted places in County Durham, which includes a story about a woman named Lily Lumley who married Ralph Lumley.[7][8] In reality, the said Ralph de Lumley, 1st Baron Lumley (c. 1360 – January 1400) was married to Eleanor Neville. But in a tale called The Lily of Lumley he has a previous wife.[9] She was supposedly thrown down a well in the castle grounds by two priests for rejecting the Catholic faith,[10] who then told Baron Lumley she left him to become a nun. Her ghost is said to float up from the well and haunts the castle.[11] A contemporary romance of Medieval times, the tale was based on a legend of a lady of Lumley who was murdered. This woman is not identified in family pedigrees.[9] Nevertheless, in 2000 and 2005, visiting cricketers staying at the castle claimed to have witnessed paranormal activity.[5][12][13] Several members of the 2005 Australian tour party recounted the strong effect its reputation and setting had on them.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ N. Pevsner revised E. Williamson (1983). "Little Lumley/Lumley Park listing detail and architectural description". Images of England. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  2. ^ Pevsner: The Complete Broadcast Talks, page 180
  3. ^ The Progresses, Processions, and Magnificent Festivities, of King James the First, His Royal Consort, Family, and Court: Volume 1 (1828), pages 71-73
  4. ^ Pevsner: The Complete Broadcast Talks, page 181
  5. ^ a b "Top ten haunted universities". 
  6. ^ "Welcome to Lumley Castle Hotel and Restaurant". Sunderland Echo. 
  7. ^ "Enough to send a chill down your spine". Durham Times. 9 April 2010. 
  8. ^ "County Durham's haunted history". BBC. 2 March 2010. 
  9. ^ a b Milner, E. (1904). Records of the Lumleys of Lumley Castle (pp.11). G. Bell. Google Books.
  10. ^ "Ghosts & Legends". 
  11. ^ "Haunted Castles - Lumley Castle". 
  12. ^ "England v West Indies: Preview". 13 May 2009. 
  13. ^ "Aussies spooked". BBC Sport. 22 June 2005. 
  14. ^ Williamson, Martin (June 15, 2013). "Rewind to 2005: 'Scared dinkum' and dead-drunk Australians". Cricinfo Magazine. ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 26 June 2013. 


  • "Fortress Britain". The Guardian. 9 December 2000. 
  • Pevsner: The Complete Broadcast Talks: Architecture and Art on Radio and Television, 1945-1977 (2014)

External links[edit]

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