Warkworth Castle is sited on raised ground in a loop of the River Coquet. The original motte and bailey castle was built in the mid 12th century by Earl Henry of Northumberland, son of David I, King of Scots. In 1157, Henry II recovered Northumberland from the Scots, and in the following year gave Warkworth Castle to Roger FitzRichard. But the castle is most famously associated with the Percy family, who acquired the castle in 1332.
The Percy family were one of the most powerful in the country, controlling much of Northern England. Despite having a major castle nearby at Alnwick, they frequently resided at Warkworth and made big improvements to the castle, most notably with the addition of the great keep in the late 14th century. The keep is one of the finest in the country, with an advanced design that would have provided impressive accommodation as well as a status symbol worthy of such a powerful family.
The Percy's power struggles brought them into frequent conflict with the monarchy, with the castle returned to royal control on several occasions, but with their influence so great, a Percy was normally soon reinstated. The sixth Percy earl, Henry, on his death in 1537, left the castle and all his possessions to Henry VIII. Subsequent attempts to reinstate a Percy brought misfortune on the castle as the catholic Percy's came into conflict with the protestant Queen Elizabeth. A failed uprising of the Northern Earls against the queen, led to the execution of the 7th earl in 1572, and to the pillaging of the castle by the Queen's servants. The castle was subsequently allowed to fall into decay.
- In Warkworth, 7½ miles south of Alnwick on A1068
- Warkworth Castle, Warkworth, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE65 OUJ
- English Heritage. Open to the public. Admission fee
- For further information visit www.english-heritage.org.uk
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