Lumley Castle – Chester-le-Street

Lumley Castle History

Lumley Castle, standing four square against the winds as it has done for over 600 years, makes a charming picture especially in the autumn when the reddened leaves of the vine covering the south front are in their full beauty. Up to the 20th century, the green pastures sloped gently down to the River Wear uninterrupted by the busy road to Sunderland, the east front overlooking the deep ravine through which flows the Lumley beck.

Lumley Castle takes its name from the man who was behind its creation in 1388, Sir Ralph Lumley. Ralph Lumley was a well-known figure at the time, a popular soldier, renowned for his bravery in battles. He played a key role in the defence of Berwick-on-Tweed in 1388 and in the same year led the attack at the Battle of Otterburn.

Despite his bravery he was captured by the Scots, imprisoned and finally released the following year in 1389. Upon his return he petitioned the Bishop of Durham to allow him to convert the Manor House built by his ancestors into a castle – the remains of which can still be seen at the castle to this day.

Unfortunately Sir Ralph did not have much time to enjoy his new home. He was involved in the conspiracy to overthrow Henry IV and replace him with Richard II, a coup that failed and led to Sir Ralph and his son Thomas being arrested.

The pair were both stripped of their titles and held prisoner until they were both executed in 1400.

The wealth and land belonging to the Lumley family was given to the Earl of Somerset who owned the castle so beloved by Sir Ralph until his death in 1421. The Earl had no son to bequeth his inheritance to, so under Elizabethan law, Lumley Castle and all its land was restored to its rightful owners – in this case Thomas, Sir Ralph`s grandson.

Thomas Lumley continued the family tradition and was known as a brave and dashing soldier, a man of whom his grandfather would have been proud. He played a prominent role in the War of the Roses and was duly appointed constable of Scarbrough Castle for life.

Thomas` bravery did not go unrewarded and he was summoned by writ to Parliament in 1461 where his family peerage was restored.

Sir Thomas was considered an important figure in court. He was involved in the successful siege of Bamburgh Castle and accompanied Edward IV into battle to oppose the late Queen Margaret`s forces.

After his death in 1485 his son George succeeded him. The name Lumley continued to play an important role in court life and in the day-to-day lives of the people of Chester-le-Street well into the 1800s

In 1976 `No Ordinary Hotel`s became the new tenants of Lumley Castle, turning it into a hotel which has fast developed a reputation of international renown.

Hauntings and Ghost Stories of Lumley Castle

The castle is said to be haunted by Lily Lumley, the wife of Sir Ralph, who, was murdered by two priests because she would not practice their faith, the priest themselves are also said to haunt Lumley Castle.

In 2005, the touring Australian cricket team was said to have been haunted during their stay at Lumley Castle. Shane Watson got so spooked that he slept on the floor of teammate Brett Lee`s room. Even the Australia media officer Belinda Dennett said: “Several of the players were uneasy although a lot of them in the morning said they were fine.”

Australia are not the only cricket team to be spooked by the spectre. In 2000, three members of the West Indian cricket team, including captain Jimmy Adams, checked out of the same hotel because they were scared.

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