A night at Langley Castle in Northumberland

Stuart Forster looks at the experience of staying a night at Langley Castle in Northumberland, one of the best castle hotels in England.

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Langley Castle. Of course! Why hadn’t I guessed that we were heading to the 14th century fortified tower in Northumberland?

I’d had two clues but hadn’t been any the wiser. The first that we’d be going to a place beginning with an ‘L’. The second was that it lies west of Newcastle. I should have known! We’d driven past the castle on the way to Allendale just a few weeks ago. I’d even suggested that we pause to visit. I had no idea that my partner had planned a surprise stay in a castle in Northumberland.

Langley Castle is roughly 35 minutes’ drive — slightly under 30 miles (47 kilometres) — west of Newcastle upon Tyne. It wasn’t until turning off the A69 near Haydon Bridge that I realised where we were going.

Flags fly from the crenellated towers of Langley Castle, a North East Castle that's luxury hotel with a fine-dining restaurant.
Flags fly from the crenellated towers of Langley Castle, a North East castle that’s luxury hotel with a fine-dining restaurant

A night at Langley Castle in Northumberland

It was a romantic night away, including a three-course meal in the castle’s restaurant.

Langley Castle is a luxury hotel with nine bedrooms inside of the castle, several of which feature four-poster beds. The pick of them, apparently, is the Derwentwater Room — named after the Earls of Derwentwater, the erstwhile owners of the estate.

Before checking in I couldn’t help but examine one of the freestanding suits of armour on display opposite the reception desk. Medieval history has always fascinated me. Living in the north-east of England means that it’s relatively easy to visit places of interest from that brutal yet intriguing era. Due to long-running intrigue and hostility between the English and Scottish crowns — including periods of warfare and invasion — Northumberland has more castles than any other county in the country.

18 of the bedrooms at Langley Castle Hotel are located on the estate of the Northumberland castle.
18 of the bedrooms at Langley Castle Hotel are located on the estate of the Northumberland castle.

History of Langley Castle

A manor house was converted into Langley Castle back in 1350. Stone from nearby Hadrian’s Wall was repurposed to construct the fortification, which has walls seven feet thick. In 1405 a fire ripped through the castle, destroying its interiors.

The fireplace and seating in the drawing room at Langley Castle, Northumberland.
A pleasant spot for tea and scones…the drawing room at Langley Castle, a North East castle offering guests an opportunity to stay in a fortified building dating from the 14th century.

The breadth of the walls helped ensure that the shell of the structure survived into modern times. Framed black and white photos, displayed in the bar, show the castle in various states, from a ruin in Victorian times.

During one of the battlement tours, which begin in the drawing room at 10.15 each morning, we learnt that Langley Castle had stood as a ruin for five centuries. A gentleman named Cadwallader Bates purchased the estate back in 1882 and set about restoring the castle until his death three decades later. His widow, Josephine, after whom the castle’s restaurant is named, continued to realise his vision of restoring the fortification.

A stained glass window in Langley Castle, dedicated to the restorers of the medieval fortification.
A stained glass window in Langley Castle, dedicated to saints sharing the name of the restorers of the medieval fortification.

The castle was utilised as barracks during World War Two and has also housed a school. After seeing the wooden staircase my mind flashed to visions of something akin to Hogwarts, of the Harry Potter novels, but it was, in fact, a girls’ school. Medieval-style banquets were also hosted in the castle during the 1970s.

Enjoy visiting historic properties? You may benefit from becoming a member of English Heritage:



Tea and scones in the drawing room

While on the staircase on the way to the drawing room — where sofas and armchairs are ranged beneath tapestries and stern looking portraits of men and women who lived during the Middle Ages — my eyes were drawn to alcoves containing heraldic shields. Seats would have fitted nicely below the coats of arms. They are, it is said, among the finest examples of a 14th century garderobe in all of Europe. A garderobe, in case you hadn’t guessed, is a medieval toilet.

Shields bearing heraldic crests above the garderobe in Langley Castle, a n ideal place for a castle stay UK.
Shields bearing heraldic emblems in Langley Castle, whose garderobe counts among one of the finest examples in all of Europe.

Upon arrival we were served tea and warm scones, accompanied by jam and clotted cream, in the drawing room. This is the room in which the Langley Castle afternoon tea is served. We returned to the vast room for a pre-dinner gin and tonic.

The food served during the three-course dinner impressed. The lobster bisque risotto starter and roast grouse main were the standout dishes. Service, when it came to refilling water and takes wine orders, could have been more attentive.

For breakfast we ordered Craster kipper and Eggs Benedict, and helped ourselves to smoked salmon and orange juice from the buffet.

On an ideal day we would then have gone walking along Hadrian’s Wall but tumbling autumn rain put paid to those plans.

As the location for surprise meal and overnight stay, Langley Castle proved memorable. I enjoyed the experience and would happily visit again.

When it comes to choosing date night locations the gauntlet is down — to use saying derived from issuing the challenge to a duel medieval times. I’m now going to have to raise my game.

Tapestry depicting figures in medieval costumes with German text on a stone wall at Langley Castle in Northumberland, one of the castle hotels in England
All part of life’s rich tapestry? A night at Langley Castle, one of the castle hotels in England.

Map of Langley Castle

Zoom out of the map below to see Langley Castle’s location in the countryside of Northumberland:

Google Map showing Langley Castle Hotel.

Accommodation near Langley Castle Hotel

Search for hotels in Northumberland via Booking.com:


Booking.com

Books about Northumberland Castles

Enjoy reading about castles and planning a visit to Northumberland? You may find the following books useful:

Brian Long’s Castles and Strongholds of Northumberland: A History and Gazeteer:

 

Defensive Northumberland by Colin Alexander:

 

Northumbria: The Lost Kingdom by Paul Gething and Edoardo Albert:

Medieval Castles of England and Wales by Bernard Lowry:

Further information

Langley Castle Hotel (Langley-on-Tyne, NE47 5LU; tel. 01434 688 888) has nine guestrooms inside the castle and 18 more within its grounds. A virtual tour of the property is available on the Langley Castle website.

A three-course table d’hote dinner is served in Langley Castle’s ground-floor Josephine Restaurant. The property’s Glass Pavilion, with floor-to-ceiling windows, seats an extra 30 guests. The castle also hosts conferences and wedding receptions.

Discover more about the county’s attractions on the Visit Northumberland website. The Visit England website is also a useful source of practical information about visiting the county and elsewhere in the country.

Stuart Forster is a history graduate and award-winning travel writer. Based in North East England, Stuart regularly writes about attractions in the region. He’s written for national newspapers such as The Independent and The Telegraph plus online publications including Love Exploring.

Thank you for visiting Go Eat Do and reading this post about spending a night at Langley Castle in Northumberland. If you’re considering staying in the region, please take a look at this post about places to visit in Northumberland

Photos illustrating this post are by Why Eye Photography, which is based in North East England.

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My visit was in October 2017. A version of this post was published on Go Eat Do on 15 October 2017.

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4 Comments

  • Alison

    October 23, 2017 at 12:00 Reply

    This is on my to do list for places I want to stay. It looks fab

    • Stuart Forster

      October 23, 2017 at 16:05 Reply

      I certainly enjoyed visiting.

  • Agness of a Tuk Tuk

    October 31, 2017 at 10:50 Reply

    Wow! Staying at this place would be a dream come true. It’s like going back in time. Is this castle easily accessible?

    • Stuart Forster

      October 31, 2017 at 17:51 Reply

      Hello Agnes, Yes, from Newcastle it’s a 35-minute drive. If you’re using public transport you can disembark the train at nearby Haydon Bridge then take a short taxi journey to the castle. It’s a fun place to visit.

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