Chillingham Castle is a medieval castle in the village of Chillingham in the northern part of Northumberland, England. It was the seat of the Grey family and their descendants the Earls of Tankerville from the 13th century until the 1980s. The Chillingham Wild Cattle, formerly associated with the Tankerville family, may be viewed from the castle grounds. The castle is a Grade I listed building.

The castle was originally a monastery in the late 12th century. In 1298, King Edward I, or "Edward Longshanks", stayed at the castle on his way to Scotland to battle a Scottish army led by William Wallace. A glazed window in a frame was specially installed for the king, a rarity in such buildings at the time. The Chillingham Wild Cattle occupy land adjacent to the castle, formerly owned by the Sir John Knott Trust, now owned by the Chillingham Wild Cattle Association (a charity not associated with the castle). The castle occupied a strategically important location in medieval times: it was located on the border between two feuding nations. It was used as a staging post for English armies entering Scotland, but was also repeatedly attacked and besieged by Scottish armies and raiding parties heading south. The site contained a moat, and in some locations the fortifications were 12 feet thick. The building underwent a series of enhancements, and in 1344 a Licence to crenellate was issued by King Edward III to allow battlements to be built, effectively upgrading the stronghold to a fully fortified castle, of quadrangular form. In 1617, James I, the first king of both England and Scotland, stayed at the castle on a journey between his two kingdoms. As relations between the two countries became peaceful following the union of the crowns, the need for a military stronghold in the area declined. The castle was gradually transformed; the moat was filled, and battlements were converted into residential wings. A banquet hall and a library were built. In the 18th and 19th century the grounds underwent landscaping, including work carried out by Sir Jeffry Wyattville. The once extensive park, now under a separate ownership from the castle, is home to the famous Chillingham Wild Cattle. During World War II, the castle was used as an army barracks. During this time, much of the decorative wood is said to have been stripped out and burned by the soldiers billeted there. After the war, the castle began to fall into disrepair. Lead had been removed from the roof, resulting in extensive weather damage to large parts of the building. In the 1980s, the castle was purchased by Sir Humphry Wakefield, 2nd Baronet, whose wife Catherine is remotely descended from the Greys of Chillingham. He set about a painstaking restoration of the castle. Sections of the castle are open to the public, and holiday apartments are available for hire.

Chillingham's ghosts
Its current owners market the castle as being the most haunted castle in Britain. . It has been investigated on television and radio (namely, Most Haunted , I'm Famous and Frightened! , Scariest Places On Earth , Holiday Showdown , Alan Robson's Nightowls) and now Ghost Hunters International . Some of these ghosts are written about are referred to in a 1925 pamphlet by Leonora, Countess of Tankerville. Others, such as John Sage, are of more recent invention. The most famous ghost of the castle is the "blue (or radiant) boy", who according to the owners used to haunt the Pink Room in the castle. Guests supposedly reported seeing blue flashes and a blue "halo" of light above their beds after a loud wail. It is claimed that the hauntings ceased after renovation work revealed a man and a young boy inside a 10-foot-thick wall. Documents dating back to the Spanish Armada were also found within the wall. When the bodies were found small marks were found etched into the wall and when the remains of the boy were examined, experts found the tops of his fingers (on his bones) had been worn down. This has lead people to believe the boy had scratched at the wall so hard to escape he destroyed his own fingers.

Building Activity

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