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.
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 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 northeast 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.
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 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.
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.
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 me. The lobster bisque risotto starter and roast grouse main were the standout dishes. Service, when it came to refilling water and taking 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 a saying derived from issuing the challenge to a duel in medieval times. I’m now going to have to raise my game.
Map of Langley Castle
Zoom out of the map below to see Langley Castle’s location in the countryside of Northumberland:
Accommodation near Langley Castle Hotel
Search for hotels in Northumberland via Booking.com:
Books about Northumberland Castles
Enjoy reading about castles and planning a visit to Northumberland? You may find the following books useful:
Defensive Northumberland by Colin Alexander:
Northumbria: The Lost Kingdom by Paul Gething and Edoardo Albert:
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.