The history of Lumley Castle starts with its creation, taking its name from creator 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 were 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 bequeath his inheritance to, so under Elizabethan law, Lumley Castle and all its land were 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.
King James, I took the crown in 1603. On his journey down from Edinburgh to London, he took a break between Newcastle and Durham as Lumley Castle as a guest of Lord Lumley. The King James Suite was named to commemorate this royal visit.
In the early 1800s, Lumley Castle came under the ownership of the Bishop of Durham, after he gave his residence of Durham Castle to the recently founded University of Durham. University students at Durham would spend their first year of studies at Lumley Castle, whilst the rest of their studies would be undertaken at Durham Castle.
The University College sold off Lumley Castle to fund the building of residence halls in the centre of Durham. Lumley Castle's past with the University is still commemorated today, however, as students take part in the 'Lumley Run' twice a year to celebrate their shared history.
No Ordinary Hotels became the new tenants of Lumley Castle, turning it into a hotel which has fast developed a reputation of international renown.
Lumley Castle goes from strength to strength and is well established as a member of ‘No Ordinary Hotels’ group. So why not join us in becoming a part of our glorious history? The House of Scarbrough still owns Lumley Castle and the present Earl plays an important part in its day to day running.
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