Heritage Category:
Park and Garden
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NU 06840 25822


A deer park associated with a castle built in the C14 with a partially surviving formal, mid to late C17 landscape with C19 Italian Garden and other architectural work by Sir Jeffrey Wyatville.

HISTORIC DEVELOPMENT Sir Thomas de Heton was granted a licence to crenellate Chillingham in 1344. From the Hetons it passed to the Grey family (qv Howick Hall), a Border family who controlled a large area from Wark to Middleton. Chillingham was important in the long period of Border warfare, the Greys holding official posts as Wardens of the West March. The C14 castle remained virtually unchanged until the mid C17 when the north, entrance wing was remodelled and aggrandised by the addition of a three-storey frontispiece with Tuscan columns. This entrance archway, intended as a grand pedestrian entrance, was served by a flight of steps. A grand entrance was also added to the Great Hall. It is possible that the partially surviving formal layout of avenues to the west of the castle, and leading to the north, entrance front is contemporary with this highly ornate scheme.

Lady Mary Grey inherited Chillingham from her father, Ford, Lord Grey, who had supported William of Orange and thereby was created Earl of Tankerville. The earldom was then revived in 1714 and given to her husband, Charles Bennet, Lord Ossulston. The grounds were landscaped in c 1753 in order to extend the lawns up to the castle (Pevsner 1974). This involved converting the ground floor of the south range into a cellar with a tunnel running in front of it. Earth was then banked up against the tunnel to form lawns up to a gravel walk which ran the length of the south front and could be accessed directly from the dining room.

The castle remained in the ownership of the earls of Tankerville in an unbroken line of succession throughout the C19, with further alterations in 1803 and in 1823 under Sir Jeffrey Wyatville (1766-1840). The castle was requisitioned in the Second World War and remained empty thereafter until bought by Sir Humphry Wakefield, who has restored the castle and its gardens. The castle remains (2002) in private ownership. The park is in separate, divided ownership, part farmed and part managed by the Chillingham Wild Cattle Association, who manage the famous Chillingham wild white cattle.


LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING Chillingham lies directly north of Hepburn, 7km east of Wooler, with the A1 (Alnwick to Berwick upon Tweed) to its east and the A697 (Morpeth to Wooler) to its west. The site lies in the Till valley with the Chillingham Burn, a tributary of the River Till, flowing through the park north-westwards from Hepburn Moor. The land rises towards the south-east to Hepburn Crags (200m) and Ross Castle (318m), a hillfort (scheduled ancient monument; outside the site here registered).

The landscape of Chillingham Park is varied, with open areas of parkland leading through to plantations, scattered trees, and woodlands. The land rises up to craggy hills and heath to the east which provide a rugged backdrop to views out from the castle and its formal gardens.

ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES The main approach to the castle leads directly off the public road from Chalton village to Hepburn at West Lodge. Flanking curved walls line the roadside to step up to the West Lodge and Gateway (Edward Blore 1835, listed grade II), which has central gate piers, cast-iron gates, and obelisk finials. This drive leads north-eastwards along a lime avenue some 450m long. It also extends south-west from West Lodge, across the road, for a further 650m to Newton Bridge on the River Till. A secondary drive leads south from the main street in Chillingham, to meet the main approach at the entrance court on the north front. The East Lodge, 60m west of St Peter's church and 150m north of the castle, marks a footpath entrance into the park. This lodge (Sir Jeffrey Wyatville 1828, listed Grade II) is in Tudor style with an octagonal plan and embattled parapets.

PRINCIPAL BUILDING Chillingham Castle (listed Grade I) dates from the C14 with later C17 and C18 alterations. Further building works date to 1803 and 1823, the latter by Wyatville. St Peter's church (c 1100, listed Grade I) stands 150m to the north-north-east of the castle, on the north side of the Chillingham Burn.

GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS The gardens and pleasure grounds extend to c 9ha. The castle sits high up above The Dell, formed by the deeply incised course of the Chillingham Burn which runs directly to the east. The burn flows north-westwards, with a large pool formed to the south-east at its confluence with other, smaller streams draining the higher parkland to the east and south-east. The Dell is thickly planted with broadleaved trees and shrubs, principally rhododendron, with a path leading through on the south side of the burn. The burn is ornamented with cascades and footbridges.

The formal gardens lie to the west and south of the castle. The Italian Garden of 0.6ha lies against the west front. It was laid out by Wyatville c 1823 and restored by Sir Humphry Wakefield in the 1980s. A pair of ornamental sandstone urns (listed Grade II), said to be part of the original Wyatville scheme, were returned to the garden in 2007. Laid out in a series of geometrical beds, the garden is bounded on its north side by an embattled garden wall (early C19, listed grade II) and is reputedly built on the site of a jousting ground (CL 1913). A gravel walk leads alongside the wall which, sitting high above the main drive, affords views over the parapet. A similar wall (early C19, listed Grade II) incorporates possibly medieval sections of random rubble walling and bounds the west side of the Italian Garden. It continues beyond the Italian Garden to form the west boundary of the South Lawn.

The South Terrace, dividing the Italian Garden from the South Lawn, is a broad turf embankment lined by a hedge, with steps ascending the embankment from each end (west and east) of the Italian Garden. It is oriented west to east to focus on the south-west tower. The terrace overlooks the South Lawn, established by c 1753 and laid out on built-up ground (see above). The South Lawn is terraced in part on its south side and its east side is enclosed by an embattled garden wall (early C19, listed Grade II) with a square seat recess, with views out over The Dell.

PARK The park of c 600ha is enclosed on all sides by perimeter belts, plantations (Sandybank Plantation, Achnacarry Plantation), and woodlands (Church Wood, Oak Wood). These clothe the lower slopes of Hepburn Moor to the south-east and east, and the slopes of Kay Hill and Amersidelaw to the north-east. To the north, Church Wood is bounded by the Spindle Burn, which drains into Hollow Burn.

The parkland originated as a deer park laid out directly to the east of the castle, its varied topography being accentuated with copses and small plantations (The Allers, My Lord's Plantation, Foxes Knowes, Deer Hemmel Plantation). On the north side of the Chillingham Burn, at the centre of the park, is a series of early C19 deer hemmels (deersheds, listed Grade II). Further areas to the south of the castle are subdivided from the deer park by a series of plantations that run from north-west to south-east along the upper course of the Hollow Burn, which drains land below Hepburn Crags. The parish boundary between Chillingham and Hepburn runs c 250m north of the southern park boundary. It extends from west to east across parkland, from the Labour in Vain plantation in the west (outside the site here registered) to Ross Castle, and comprises significant ancient trees including beech, oak, and remnants of elm along its length. Some 1.3km south-east of the castle and 70m north of the southern park boundary is Hepburn Bastle (listed Grade II*), a C15 tower house, first recorded in 1509, with C16 and C17 alterations.

KITCHEN GARDEN A walled garden of 2.4ha lies 280m to the north-west of the castle, to the north of the main village street. The late C18 walls are faced in brick with a stone coping.


Country Life, 33 (8 March 1913), pp 346-55; 121 (8 November 1973), pp 1426-8 The Garden, (30 November 1872), p 462; (2 November 1895), p 335 J Horticulture and Cottage Gardener, (4 October 1888), p 314; (28 October 1897), p 403 N Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Northumberland (1974), pp 123-5

Maps OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1860, published 1866 2nd edition published 1897 3rd edition published 1926

Description written: January 2002 Edited: August 2004 Amended: November 2007


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:
Parks and Gardens


This garden or other land is registered under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 within the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens by Historic England for its special historic interest.

End of official listing