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Report 2043: Northumberland in the Snow in January

By Eleanor from UK, Winter 2013

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Page 2 of 10: To Seahouses - Warkworth

photo by MAW

Main street Warkworth

We left Scunthorpe heading to our first overnight stop at the Bamburgh Castle Inn at Seahouses. It was a glorious morning with bright blue sky and sunshine making the snow gleam. Our spirits rose. It was not to last. The A1 was cloudy with a slight mist hanging. By the time we reached Durham it was overcast and snow had fallen recently and snow ploughs were out. By the time we reached the Tyne Tunnel it was very overcast and there was rain and sleet. Not the most auspicious of starts. Fortunately this eased by the time we reached Warkworth allowing us chance to explore the village. In January the castle shuts weekdays, so we had to leave this for another visit.

Warkworth is a pretty small village in a loop of the River Coquet with the dramatic ruins of the castle at one end of the main street and the church and medieval fortified bridge at the other. It still retains much of its medieval street pattern and old, honey colored stone houses. If you like the stone villages of the Cotswolds, you will love Warkworth.

In its time it must have been a busy place and still has three inns. Now it is a tourist honey pot with a lot of self catering accommodation, B&Bs, two cafes, several tourist shops and post office and general store. In the summer it is always busy. On a snowy January day, nearly everywhere was shut and we were the only visitors.

There is a super view of the castle from the A1068 coming from the south. This has been a fortified site since the 8thC and the Normans built a motte and bailey castle here in the 12thC in an attempt to subjugate the north. The 14thC castle seen today replaced that. This is the ancient seat of the Percy Family and power base of Harry Hotspur, if you remember your Shakespeare. The Percys became the Dukes of Northumberland and the power base moved to Alnwick.

St Lawrence’s church is a largely Norman building set in a churchyard surrounded by old yew trees and ancient gravestones. It is a long, low building with massive tower at the west end topped by a small spire.

Inside there is a very wide south aisle, added later, and in the corner sits the remains of a 13thC crusader knight’s tomb.

The Norman nave has large round topped windows set back in thick walls, with small round columns on either side. On the walls are brass and stone memorial tablets to the great and good.

A beautiful Norman chancel arch with beading and a decorative border leads into the chancel which is pure Norman with round topped windows and dog toothed stone ribs on the vaulted ceiling. Black and red tiles cover the floor and there are carved wooden choir stalls. On the east wall is a large wooden reredos with barleycorn twist pillars, arches and floral decoration. On the north wall are two carved stone memorials, one to Mrs. Ann, wife of Mr. William Hunter. The second is to Mr. John Clutterbuck with details of his wife and all his children. Between them is the brass memorial to the dead of World War One with 30 names. Below a smaller brass plate lists the ten names from World War Two.

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