Warkworth Castle is, to my mind anyway, one of the most complete and finest examples of a medieval castle in England. It is built on a hill contained within a loop of the River Croquet, just a few miles inland from the river’s entry into the North Sea at Amble.
The castle as it is seen today dates from around 1200 and was built by Roger Fitz Roger, Sheriff of Northumberland. It replaced an earlier castle which had suffered as a result of the Scottish invasion of 1173. King Edward I stayed at Warkworth in 1292 during his campaigns against the Scots. In 1328 it passed into the hands of the Percy family (formerly Earls and later Dukes of Northumberland).
The Tower dates from 1377 and was built by the first Earl of Northumberland. The castle passed to the Crown when the sixth Earl died in 1527 and although Crown officers continued to use it but by 1550 it was described as falling into decay. It was restored to the Percy family in 1557 and they set about repairing the decay, but Warkworth continued to pass between the Crown and the Percy family as the family’s fortunes waxed and waned.
During the civil war, the castle was held by Parliamentary forces and when they withdrew they were ordered to make sure the castle could not be held by any other force. It is recorded that materials from the castle were used in buildings elsewhere in the area. In the 19th century the Percy family began to renovate the castle. The Dukes of Northumberland, now living at Alnwick, would bring guests to Warkworth for picnics in the Great Tower. The castle passed into State guardianship in 1922 and into the hands of English Heritage in 1984.