Lumley Castle

Lumley Castle, County Durham

Lumley Castle is a 14th century quadrangular castle at Chester-le-Street in the North of England, near to the city of Durham and a property of the Earl of Scarbrough. It is a Grade I listed building.


It is named for its original creator, Sir Ralph Lumley, who converted his family manor house into a castle in 1389 after returning from wars in Scotland. However, after being implicated in a plot to overthrow Henry IV he was imprisoned and ultimately executed, forfeiting his lands to the Earl of Somerset. In 1421 the ownership of the Castle reverted to Sir Ralph Lumley's grandson, Thomas.

Lumley Castle Copperplate 1787

By the nineteenth century, the castle had become the residence of the Bishop of Durham, after Bishop Van Mildert gave his residence of Durham Castle to the newly founded University of Durham. The castle thus became a hall of residence for University College, Durham. Castlemen, as the students of University College, Durham were known, spent their first year at Lumley Castle and subsequent years in the Castle at Durham. Lumley Castle was sold in the 1960s by University College to fund the building of the Moatside residential halls in central Durham, in order to keep all students on the same site. The role of Lumley Castle in University College's history is still commemorated by students in the termly 'Lumley Run'.


As with any historic location, Lumley Castle has its resident ghost. Lily, Lady Lumley, the wife of Sir Ralph is said to walk the corridors of her former home where she was murdered by local priests and her body dumped in the well, which you can still see today.

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. These days the medieval atmosphere is enhanced by the staff dressing in period costume.


In 1976, management of the castle was handed over to No Ordinary Hotels (although the property is still in the possession of Lord Scarbrough), who had the castle turned into the 59-bedroomed hotel it is today. It is also a picturesque backdrop for Durham County Cricket Club's Riverside Ground, which was first used in 1995.

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