Witton Castle


Witton Castle, County Durham
Photo © Hugh Mortimer, 7 January 2007

Witton Castle - Photo ©
Oxana Maher, 18 September 2006

Witton Castle was first built in the 13th century. Damaged by fire in 1796 and rebuilt in the 1800's.

The Castle is a much altered 15th century castle, which is the centrepiece of a holiday and caravan country park at Witton le Wear, near Bishop Auckland, County Durham. It is a Grade II listed building.

Sir Ralph Eure obtained a licence to crenellate his manor house in 1410 and created the castle. The castle was held by Royalist Sir William Darcy during the English Civil War. He compounded for the return of his confiscated estate which was sold by his descendant Henry Darcy to William Cuthbert in 1743. The castle later passed to Hopper but was severely damaged in a fire which in 1796 destroyed most of the castle interior.

In 1816 William Chaytor (later a Baronet) of Croft Hall, Yorks purchased the castle estate for £78,000 and restored the fabric and rebuilt the interior in modern style. The estate was rich in coal and Witton Park colliery was sunk in 1825. Sir William Chaytor served as High Sheriff of Durham in 1839. Members of the Chaytor family lived at Witton until the mid 20th century.

WITTON CASTLE, COUNTY DURHAM

Sir William Darcy held Witton Castle for the king, and was besieged in it by Sir Arthur Hastlerigg of Auckland Castle (j.v.). The place was taken and its contents were sequestered, but no injury was done to the building by the Parliament. A subsequent owner, however — James, Lord Darcy — in 1681 destroyed the place; he took away the lead, timber, and chimney-pieces to help in building a house at Sudbury, near Richmond, but this plan was never carried out, and the spoil of the old castle of Witton was afterwards sold at a lower price than the demolition had cost him.

It was originally a place of great strength; rectangular in shape, it had strong embattled curtain walls enclosing a large area, with projecting turrets or bartizans, three circular and one square, at the four angles. At one end and on the line of wall stands by itself a lofty square keep with a crenellated parapet throughout; it is two storeys only in height, with a staircase turret in one corner giving access to the roof, and its windows are square and modern. The entrance was in the centre of the N. wall through a gateway which is defended by a projecting gallery.

This important and interesting castle is now the propeity and residence of Henry Chaytor, Esq.

THE CASTLES OF ENGLAND, THEIR STORY AND STRUCTURE VOL. II