Welcome To Bamburgh
- Bamburgh Castle
- Grace Darling
- Fables & Folklore
- St Aidans Church
Come and explore Bamburgh
Welcome to Bamburgh, The Historic Coastal Village of Bamburgh is set in beautiful Northumberland countryside. During the early medieval period Bamburgh was at the very centre of royal Northumbria which stretched from the Humber to the Forth and was said to be the most important county in England. When approching Bamburgh today you would be forgiven for not even noticing the village at first nestling at the bottom of one of Englands most amazing castles. Bamburgh probably first became a tourist village in Victorian times when local girl Grace Darling became famous for helping her father to rescue the survivors from the SS Forfarshire when the ship was driven by a storm onto Harcar rocks on 7 September 1838.
Bamburgh's resident population is only about 300 however this swells during the summer months when tourists flock to visit the village. Bamburgh has resisted the trappings of the average coastal village, you will not find fish and chip shops, take aways and ammusement arcades here. Instead Bamburgh has retained its historic heritage and is designated an area of outstanding natural beauty. At the centre of the village there is a tree lined village grove surrounded to one side by St Aidan's Church. To the other side you find Front Street which is the home to the villages 4 hotels, a delectable village shop selling traditional sweets and locally made ice creams, two quality gift shops, a wonderful deli, an award winning tea room, Bamburgh's Famous Butcher R Carter's and Sons 'one of Rick Stein's food heros', a selection of superb restaurants and places to eat, and an art studio. To the top of the grove you will find the family run Green grocers/grocers/nursery G S Clarks almost hidden in the walled garden that used to serve the castle.
At the heart of Bamburgh is a strong community spirit, the residents of Bamburgh positively welcome visitors to the village as often that was the first way they came to the village before making it their home. Perhaps this is why so many families come back to Bamburgh year after year and indeed generation after generation.
Holidays - Miles of unspoilt white sandy beaches to walk apon, Castles and Fabulous Countryside to explore, Cosy pubs and restaurants to relax in and Stunning holidays cottages to stay in - why not book a holiday in Bamburgh this Year? Visit our Accommodation pages for more details.
Film - Northern Flame
Inspired by the Olympic Torch's journey through Northumberland in 2012, this film relays the stories, heritage and culture of just some of the folk who live there.
* Bamburgh Castle is currently open:
Bamburgh Castle will be open every weekend over winter.
The coastal Parish of Bamburgh is set in beautiful Northumberland countryside. During the early medieval period Bamburgh was at the very centre of royal Northumbria which stretched from the Humber to the Forth. It was the most important county in England very different from the quiet little village that it is today. The original name of Bamburgh was Din Guaroy but it became Bebbanburg after the Saxon Queen Bebba and finally Bamburgh
The Parish boundary extends from the Waren Burn in Budle Bay to the coast along the Budle Water, then down the coast to a point just short of Monks House, taking briefly to the sea to include Islestone, the most northerly (and uninhabited) member of the Farne Islands.
This is a coastline of open, sweeping beaches, rocky shores and extensive sand dunes. Our beautiful beaches awarded us with a distinction yet again! for their quality and cleanliness.
The inland boundary wanders through lush farmland dotted with picturesque, stone-walled farm buildings. In every part of the Parish there are breathtaking views of the Farne Islands, the Cheviot Hills and, of course, Bamburgh Castle Itself.
A Brief History of Bamburgh
Below is a brief summary of the Historical Background of Bamburgh In the prehistoric period Northumbria looked very different from the county we know today. The sea level was lower and areas which are now on the coast were actually inland. At the end of the ice age the people who inhabited the region were hunter-gatherers who lived nomadic lives traveling around in small groups and evidence of the tools they used has been found in Bamburgh. By the Neolithic period people started to farm the area and stone tools have been found at Bamburgh & Glorurum. During the Bronze age the landscape had become more settled with increased deforestation and the creation of field systems.By around 550 AD the Anglo Saxons from the continent expanded northwards and control passed to the Anglican King, Ida. The British territorial name of Bryneich (Bernicia), was retained by Ida, as was the British name of the stronghold at Bamburgh, Din Guaroy, from where Ida and his successors ruled. Later it became Bebbanburg after the Saxon Queen Bebba and finally Bamburgh. Aidan came to Bamburgh from the monastery of Iona in 635, at the request of King Oswald who sent for a monk to preach the Christian faith in Northumbria. Aidan immediately built a wooden church, somewhere in the vicinity of St Aidans Church. He died in 651, resting against an outer buttress of the church (this timber buttress survived two subsequent fires, and tradition says that it is now incorporated in the roof above the font). From this place, Christianity spread throughout Northern England. A medieval village developed around the foot of the Castle, and a Dominican Friary (dating from 1256) was built in what is now the western part of the village. Among the friars charitable activities was a lepers hospital, but this closed in the 14th century and its site remains uncertain. The Friary acquired extensive lands, which flourished until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1545 when all their property was seized by Henry VIII and sold to Sir John Forster for the princely sum of £664.Under the ownership of the Forster family (who lived in Bamburgh Hall) the castle gradually fell into disrepair and became little more than a ruin, but in the 18th century it came under the ownership of Lord Nathaniel Crewe, Bishop of Durham. He began the long process of restoration, but soon died and work was continued by the charitable trust that bears his name. The Lord Crewe Trust rebuilt much of the village and created a 'welfare state' for the inhabitants which provided a school, a dispensary, a hospital, a coastguard service, a lifeboat and a welfare centre for the shipwrecked mariners. By the 1880's the trust was in difficulties and in 1894 sold the Castle, village and estate lands to Lord Armstrong of Cragside, who devoted much of his later life to the restoration of the castle. When he died in 1900 the work continued in the hands of his heir - Lord Armstrong of Bamburgh. The magnificent restoration of the castle has made it a major tourist attraction and it has become a desirable venue for weddings. Archaeologists have been investigating the castle since the late 1950's and the Bamburgh Research Project continues to try and decipher 5000 years of occupation of the castle rock. "When the Bamburgh Research project started their investigation at the Castle ten years ago. Little did we know that one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in the world was about to be discovered" Francis Watson Armstrong of Bamburgh Castle.
A recent publication has put together their findings to date together with information from other leading archaeologists and specialists in the Geology and natural environment of Bamburgh. This book is available from local shops and businesses in Bamburgh.
This year the castle will be open from the 13th to 21st February is then closed for a week then re-opens on the 27th February for the season.
Bamburgh Castle stands on a massive, 180-foot high basalt crag, giving all-round views of the coast and surrounding countryside. At first no more than a wooden fortification around a Royal Saxon City (Bebbanburh - named after Bebba, wife of the Saxon ruler Ethelfrith) which was over-run and sacked by the Danes in 993, the castle was first built in stone by the Normans in the 12th centaury. Impregnable until the 15th century, it eventually came under cannon fire during the Wars of the Roses and fell after a 9-month siege. With breached walls it ceased to have military significance.
Archaeologists have been investigating the castle since the late 1950's and the Bamburgh Research Project continues to try and decipher 5000 years of occupation of the castle rock.
"When the Bamburgh Research project started their investigation at the Castle ten years ago. Little did we know that one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in the world was about to be discovered" Francis Watson Armstrong of Bamburgh Castle.
A recent publication has put together their findings to date together with information from other leading archaeologists and specialists in the Geology and natural environment of Bamburgh. This book is available from local shops and businesses in Bamburgh.
The RNLI Grace Darling Museum Needs You!
The RNLI Grace Darling Museum, founded in 1938, tells the story of a young girl who risked her life to rescue others from certain death in a terrible storm
Can you help to keep this legacy alive?
You can get involved at the Museum as: -
Museum Front of House Volunteers
Museum Education Volunteers
If you are interested, please call: 01668 214 910
The following story has been taken in part from 'Grace Darling The Heroine of the Farne Islands' by Christine Bell published in 2004 by kind permission of Christine Bell. Copyright © Christine Bell 2004
On the 24th November 1815, Grace Darling was born in the home of her grandfather, Job Horsley. When she was just three weeks old she was christened in St Aidan's Church, which stands across the road from the cottage. She was named Grace Horsley Darling, in memory of her grandfather, who had died the previous year. Grace was then taken home across the water to the Farne Islands, where her father William Darling was the lightkeeper. Their home was a cottage on the Brownsman Island, which lies in the middle of the group of twenty eight islands called the Farnes, about two miles off the coast from Bamburgh Castle. The islands were very wild and desolate places. The rough sea crashes over them, and the strong, blustery winds howl around their shores. Many of the islands are hidden beneath the water, for the tides are exceptionally high at times.
photograph copyright © RNLI It was here, on Brownsman, amongst the birds and the wild flowers that covered the island, and surrounded by the wild North Sea, that William and Thomasin Darling raised their family. Grace was the seventh child. She had five brothers and three sisters, and a pet dog called happy. All the children were given family names. Her eldest brother William, born in 1806, was named after his father. Then came twin girls in 1808, Thomasin named after her mother and Mary Ann, named after an aunt. Job came next in 1810. He was given Grandfather Horsley's name. Elizabeth Grace, born in 1812, was number 5 and named after Grandma Darling. Robert named after Grandfather Darling followed in 1814. Then came Grace, named Grace Horsley Darling after Grandma Horsley. After Grace, twin boys were born in 1819. They were named George Alexander after Great Grandfather Darling, and William Brooks after a Great Uncle. The Children had to work very hard. They all had their tasks to do to keep the lighthouse running smoothly and efficiently. Mr Darling was paid £70 a year by Trinity House to look after the lighthouse, but the rest of the family were not paid, even though they had to share the work. Their reward was being allowed to live with him on the island. The first lighthouse on Brownsman Island was built in 1795 and Grace's Grandfather, Robert Darling, was the lightkeeper. It was a square tower built by the side of the cottage, standing about 13 meters high, and the light was provided by a coal and timber fire. In 1810 a second lighthouse was built at the other side of the cottage. It had a revolving light and silvered copper reflectors, and oil was used instead of coal. This was a great improvement. It was in 1838, when Grace was twenty two years old that her name was written into our history books. On the evening of the 5th of September 1838, the luxury steamship Forfarshire, the most splendid and powerful steam vessel, and one of the first ever cruise ships, left Hull bound for Dundee. It was carrying a cargo of fine material, soap and boiler plate, thirty nine passengers and one of its starboard boilers sprung a leek. Had the weather been favorable and the sea calm perhaps all would have been well, but as they sailed North the weather deteriorated and they ran into a terrible storm. By 6.00pm the following evening the Forfarshire was passing the Farne Islands. That same night Mr and Mrs Darling and Grace were the only three in the lighthouse. William Brooks had gone across to the village of Seahouses that morning to help his friends with the fishing and because of the storm had been unable to return home. At about 4.00am on the 7th of September 1838, the Forfarshire struck the big Harcar rock and broke in two. Just after four thirty that morning Grace spotted the wreck from her bedroom window. She hurried down stairs to tell her father. Because of the darkness and the spray being thrown up over the rocks they could not see any signs of life. It was not until seven o'clock that they spotted movement on the rocks. Immediately Grace pleaded with her father to go and help those poor souls, Mr Darling hesitated, not because he was afraid, for he had shown outstanding courage on many occasions, but in the past years he always had his sons to help him, but now there was only Grace. She had never been out in such treacherous seas, but he didn't doubt her courage. Grace was impatient. She had no thought of danger and the risk to their own lives. It was impossible to take a direct route to the wreak as they would have been exposed to the full fury of the storm and would most certainly have been dashed onto the rocks by the mountainous waves. Instead they went round the south side of the islands so that they were sheltered most of the way, though this meant they had to row twice the distance. Mr Darling knew that it would be impossible to get them all into the coble in such conditions. So as they drew close, he jumped out onto the rock, leaving Grace to hold the boat steady while he organised the survivors into two groups. How she had the strength to keep that coble, which usually took four people to row in such horrendous seas, from being broken to pieces on those jagged rocks is remarkable. Grace claimed that God was with her and gave her the strength se needed. There were nine people still alive on the reef. There was one lady, Mrs Dawson. She was holding in her arms the dead bodies of her two young children. There was also the dead body of a clergyman. The Revd. Mr. Robb. Mr. Darling helped Mrs Dawson and an injured man into the boat along with the other three men and they struggled back to the lighthouse. Grace remained there to help her mother look after the survivors. The Forfarshire being the most luxurious up to date vessel of its day, news of the wreak spread fast, throughout the country. When the survivors told of the young girl, who with her farther had rowed out and saved their lives, Grace soon became famous. Glowing reports of her appeared in newspapers telling of her heroic deed. People wrote asking for locks of her hair. Artists arrived on the island to paint her portrait, poets to write verse and boat trips were organised just to take people out to look at her. Gifts were showered on her, offers of marriage were made and she was even invited to appear on stage in London. Grace hated all the fuss, she always claimed she had done nothing outstanding, only doing her Christian duty. Not long after the event Grace developed a nasty cough. Her condition worsened and she went to stay with a cousin in Alnwick where she was attended by the Duke of Northumberland's physician. Grace longed to go home to be by the sea she loved. Her sister Thomasin took Grace home to Bamburgh, and it was there, in Thomasin's cottage that on the 20th October 1842, at the age of twenty six that Grace died. She was buried in St Aidan's Churchyard. People wished that she would always be remembered and money was raised to build a monument in her memory. There it stands to this day, in a prominent position where it can be seen from the sea, and hundreds of people, both young and old come to the church yard every year to pay their respects to a young courageous girl called Grace Darling, who risked her life to save others.
'The Grace Darling Memorial' photo taken by Melanie Darling
This story was taken from extracts of the book 'Grace Darling The Heroine of the Farne Islands' by Christine Bell published in 2004 by kind permission of Christine Bell. Copyright © Christine Bell 2004 Copies can be purchased from : Mrs C Bell, 2 Radcliffe Road, Bamburgh, Northumberland, NE69 7AE.
The Grace Darling Museum The museum, opened in 1938, perpetuates the memory of Grace Darling, local heroine.
School visits: "School and other group visits can be booked though Education and Outreach Officer, Verity Owens, on 01668 214910.
The opening times are:
Easter to end October, daily 10am-5pm (last entry 4.15pm)
November to Easter, Tues to Sunday and Bank holiday Mondays, 10am-4pm (last entry 3.30pm)
Booking is essential for all groups at least 2 weeks in advance .
Download a Grace Darling fact sheet.The RNLI Grace Darling Museum welcomes volunteers to help us maintain our high level of visitor services Please contact the Museum if you are interested in helping in any capacity. Thank you
Fables & Folklore
In the year 1393 two of the main wells supplying the village dried up, leaving a well in the grounds of the Dominican Friary as the most convenient source of water. However, the friars were in dispute with the villagers and denied them the use of the well. One day Jane Boys, a local woman, who was pregnant at the time, stopped by the well and drank from it. The next day she gave birth to a dead child. It was then discovered that the friars had obtained the body of a dead dog Joliffe and flung it down the well. The villagers immediately concluded that Jane's baby had died because she had drunk from the poisoned water from the well. The burgesses and community of Bamburgh then sent a petition to King Richard II telling him of their grievances. It is not known what, if anything, the king did about it.
St Aidan's Prayer
One day St Aidan, who was on one of the Farne Islands at the time, saw that Penda the Mercian King was besieging Bamburgh. His men had piled wood against the castle rock and set it on fire. The flames were licking at the wooden walls of the castle. St Aidan said "Oh Lord, see what wicked Penda does". As he said this, the wind suddenly changed direction and drove the flames back on Penda and his men who gave up their attempt.
King Oswald's incorruptible arm
One Easter day king Oswald and St Aidan were dining with a company in Bamburgh when one of his servants told the king that poor people had gathered outside hoping to get the scraps from their table. On hearing this King Oswald gave the food from his plate and also had a plate, made of silver, broken into pieces to be distributed amongst the poor people. On seeing this St Aidan seized the kings right hand and said "may this hand never decay". It is said that many years after the kings death his body was exhumed and it was found that his right arm was completely undecayed. It was put on view to worshippers but unfortunately his arm was stolen from Bamburgh at a later date.
Ferdinando Foster's Murder
a feud existed between the Foster and Fenwick families which had started over a will. In 1701 Ferdinando Foster while drinking a in a Newcastle tavern, quarreled with John Fenwick of Rock. The two men went outside to fight a duel. Ferdinand slipped and fell before he could drawn his sword, John Fenwick ran him through and killed him where he lay. A month later John Fenwick was hanged for his crime. Ferdinando's gauntlets, breastplate and helmet can be seen hanging near the altar in St Aidan's Church.
Tom and Dorothy Foster
The brother and sister Tom and Dorothy Foster lived for a time with their aunt in Bamburgh Hall. Tom became a general in the Jacobite army and fought in the 1715 rebellion. He was captured at the battle of Preston and imprisoned in Newgate jail in London. His sister Dorothy set about saving him and apparently rode to London riding pillion behind the Adderstone blacksmith. Somehow she smuggled him out of jail, and he escaped to France. It is believed Dorothy arranged a mock funeral for her brother in St Aidan's Church using a coffin filled with sawdust. He died in France in 1738 and his body was brought to Bamburgh for burial in the church crypt.
The Crows of Bamburgh
(always referred to locally as crow although they are really rooks!)
For many years there has been a large rookery in the Grove in the centre of the village. It has been said the village will be no more if the crows leave Bamburgh. Please do not think too unkindly of them should they annoy you, for all our sakes!
The story of the Laidley Worm
begins with King Ida the Flame bearer, an Anglo chieftain who was supposedly a descendant of the god Wooden. King Ida had a daughter, Margaret and a son, Child Wynd. When Ida's wife died he became enchanted by a witch named Be hoc whom he married. His son left to seek adventure abroad, but the new Queen was jealous of Margaret, and cast a spell turning her into a dragon known as the Laidley Worm. The worm curled itself around a nearby hill known as Spindlestone Heugh and terrorized the villagers to bring food to her cave. Childe Wynd heard of his sisters disappearance, and of the dragon. He returned home to slay the creature but as he raised his sword, it spoke in his sister's voice asking for a kiss. When he did so, the kiss returned her to a lady. He then confronted the Queen who somehow changed into a repulsive toad. The toad is said to crawl out of the castle's well every seven years, seeking revenge on innocent maidens
St Aidans Church
St Aidan founded a church on this spot in 635
having been invited by King Oswald to the Castle
It has continued as a place of Christian belief and witness over the centuries for local people and visitors
We welcome everyone, whoever they may be
a casual visitor, a tourist fascinated by this beautiful historic building, a believer seeking an oasis of silence and prayer, a pilgrim in search of truth, a traveler hoping for healing and consolation.
St Aidan’s is open from 9 in the morning until dusk every day
there are occasional services of Iona Evening Prayer at 6.00 pm.
For details of these and other variations see notices inside the church or contact: The Reverend Brian Hurst E-mail (01668 214 748) Vicar of Bamburgh and Ellingham and Area Dean of Bamburgh and Glendale.
or alternatively contact the churchwarden: Christopher Turner E-mail
BELLRINGING St Aidan’s Church has a fine peal of 8 bells Practice night is Tuesday 7.00 – 8.30 pm Beginners & Visiting Ringers are always welcome Bell Tower Captain: Pauline Lees Tel 01668 214 034
SERVICES AT OTHER NEARBY CHURCHES
Methodist Church, Seahouses
1st Sunday 9.30 am
other Sundays 10.45 am
St. Aidan's RC Church, 18 King Street, Seahouses NE68 7XP
Telephone 01665 720427
Every Sunday and Holy Days - Mass 11.00am
Easter to end of September. Vigil Mass Saturday 12.00 midday
Sunday Mass 11.00am
Easter Services 2011
Maundy Thursday; April 21st. Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper; 7.00 pm.
Good Friday; April 22nd Passion and death of Our Saviour; 3.00 pm.
Holy Saturday; April 23rd Easter Vigil; 12. noon.
Easter Sunday; April 24th Mass of Resurrection; 9.00 am.
United Reform Church, North Sunderland
Sunday 9.00 am (in St Paul’s C of E)
United Reform Church, Belford
Sunday 10.30 am
Aidan came to Bamburgh from the monastery of Iona in 635. He came at the request of King Oswald for a bishop to bring the message of the gospel to the people of Northumbria.
He was a wise and gentle man who lived a simple life, traveling mostly on foot so that he could meet and talk to as many people as possible.
He got on well with rich and poor alike and was loved by all for his generous spirit.
He founded a church on this spot and established a monastery on Lindisfarne, which became a centre for prayer, learning and training of missionary priests.
He taught people to love God, and understand the scriptures.
He gave away any gifts to the poor and used money to ransom slaves.
There has been a Christian community in Bamburgh ever since his time.
The Venerable Bede (673-735) wrote of Aidan that he . . .
“ . . . gave his clergy an inspiring example of self- discipline, and the highest recommendation of his teaching to all was that he and his followers lived as they have taught. ”
“ . . . never sought or cared for any worldly possessions, and loved to give away to the poor who chanced to meet him whatever he received from kings or wealthy folk. ”
“ . . . always traveled on foot unless compelled by necessity to ride; and whatever people he met on his walks, whether high or low, he stopped and spoke to them. ”
Oswald, son of the King of Northumbria, spent much of his childhood on in exile on Iona, and was educated by the monks there.
He regained the kingdom in 633 when he defeated Cadwallon at the Battle of Heavensfield, near Hexham, raising a large cross before fighting a much larger force. Bamburgh was his royal castle.
He gave Lindisfarne to Bishop Aidan and helped him as an interpreter to teach the people of the area in their own language.
King Oswald increased the spread of Christianity by persuading the King of Wessex to accept preachers from Northumbria
Through marriage, alliances and diplomacy, as well as through battles, he became recognised as king of all Saxon England.
Bede wrote of Oswald that he…
“ . . . always listened humbly and readily to Aidan’s advice.”
“ . . . while the bishop preached the Gospel, it was most delightful to see the king himself interpreting the word of God to his alderman and theigns.”
“ . . . at length brought under his scepter all the peoples and provinces of Britain speaking the four languages, British, Pictish, Irish, and English.”