Etal Castle (England)

Northumberland     See list of castles in Inghilterra

The remains of the Castle Etal stand next to the river To the west end of the single road through the surprisingly enough, though small, village of Etal, about eight miles northwest of Wooler in Northumberland. We approach across the country, before moving to the left of the guard along a road leading to a parking lot. Admission is through the reception and exhibition, in what was once a Presbyterian chapel.

The exhibition housed inside the old chapel is exceptional, and much of it revolves around the Battle of Flodden, fought only two and a half miles southwest, 9 September 1513. King Henry VIII of England had invaded France in earlier in 1513, and the Scottish felt compelled to invade England under the terms of the Auld Alliance, the mutual defense treaty with France. The Scots have managed to capture a number of English castles near the border, including Etal, before being in front of a small English army with the Earl of Surrey.

The result was a disaster for Scotland, and a triumph for England. The Scots have lost up to 10,000 dead by an army of about 25,000. The Scottish dead including himself King James IV, as well as an archbishop, two bishops, 11 Earls, 15 lords and knights 300: in fact a whole generation of Scottish nobility was blown away. English has only lost 1,700 dead out of an army of about 20,000. What made things worse for the Scots is that the army that had beaten them was, in fact, the English Team "B", hastily collected while the main army was away in France. It can be argued that the result of Flodden set the course for future relations between England and Scotland until the Act of Union of 1707.

The exhibition at Etal gives a vivid impression of spades forests deployed in the conflict in the early 1500s, and there are also examples of other weapons and armor, as well as a model that shows the comparison between the two armies, and a small cannon that seems likely to have been of greatest danger to those standing behind it than to its intended objectives. Other parts of the exhibition look at the history of the villages of Etal and Ford.

The exhibition goes through the castle itself. Your first view may be a bit 'confused, because, at least initially, the castle seems to consist simply of a standing tower house in the middle of a large grassy area. It takes a little 'time to realize that you are watching what was, in its heyday, the corner of a castle or less rectangular. The impressive gatehouse which remains so evident from Etal village, and you pass en route to the car park, form the opposite corner of the castle, and there are remains of another smallish south west tower built on the end of the Old Manse of the Presbyterian chapel.

It is thought that there was an additional tower to defend the northeast corner of the castle, but its presumed site has never been excavated. The length of the curtain from the guardhouse to the south-west tower is still at a considerable height, but the other three wall lengths necessary to complete the castle have long disappeared.

Today you can enter the shell of the tower house and see the internal testing of the three floors that once provided a room and accommodation for the Lord and his family. The guard comes with a number of interesting features, including the guard rooms, plus a good view of the village. The south-west tower exists only as a ground floor room at once.

The history of Etal Castle dates back to the efforts of the Normans to secure their grip on the north of England in the early 1100s Northumberland was carved up into feudal baronies, each assigned to a supporter of Henry I. The Barony of Wooler was assigned in 1107 to Robert Muschamp, who must have had conflicting views to be assigned one of the most dangerous places in England. Not only he had the Anglo-Saxon natives to obtain and maintain control over, but there was also the ever-present danger of Scottish raids across the border nearby.

Muschamp would come in Wooler accompanied by a group of knights of confidence. His first step was to get the firm control of the Barony, an area of ‚Äč‚Äčnearly 20 miles from east to west and from north to south almost ten. It would then have fragmented on small areas of land, which were effectively sublet his supporters in exchange for their obligation to provide military service when needed.

By 1180 the knight with the earth, or master, around Etal was one Robert Manners, and this remains the case in 1250, although it seems safe to assume that Robert Manners of which was then the son or grandson of the man who holds the manor in 1180. the assumption is that the first Robert Manners would have lived in a wooden room situated inside an enclosure surrounded by a fence. Another Robert Manners was knighted for services to King Edward I in 1278, and it seems very likely that the original wooden hall was replaced by a stone from this moment.

In 1341, yet another Sir Robert Manners is licensed for crenellate won (or strengthen) et al. It seems that at this time a stone tower three-story house, already existed on the site, and this has been extended up to an additional floor and battlements added around the top. This would be set within a courtyard defended by, probably, a wooden palisade. Sir Robert Manners died in 1354, and in a clear break with the family tradition was succeeded by his son John Manners. After at least six generations of Robert Manners, it is tempting to wonder whether John was a younger son whose older brother (speculatively, a Robert) had died before inheriting.

John Manners transformed the tower house he inherited in Etal Castle, which seems to have been mostly completed by 1368. The beginning of 1400 was dominated by a feud between John Manners of Etal and Ford Heron family, less than two miles southeast . This led to an armed conflict in 1428 and the death of the heir to the Lord of Ford. By the time John Manners died (apparently of natural causes) in 1438, the Castle Etal was rundown and the manor's value had dropped to only a tenth of what it had been a century earlier.

The Robert Manners who inherited in 1438 was knighted for his support for Henry de Percy, 3rd Baron Percy of Alnwick, and was later granted lands and additional properties. He also married well, ensuring that his son has inherited the Lordship of Roos. This was good for the family, whose descendants became Earls and later Dukes of Rutland. It 'was not good for Etal Castle, that by the end of 1400 was abandoned as a residence by the family in favor of the surroundings less annoying than their property in Rutland.

Etal Castle was left in the care of a policeman, John Collingwood, and it was during his tenure that the castle fell to a huge Scottish army in 1513. The castle was abandoned by the Scots after the Battle of Flodden, and seems to have steadily declined in conditions during the rest of 1500. the Etal estate go through a number of hands in the following centuries, and it seems tower house may have been used as a residence for at least part of this time. E 'was abandoned for good when Etal Manor was built at the other end of the country in 1748.

Ford and Etal estate were purchased from 1st Baron Joicey Chester le Street in 1907 and 1908, and has done so much to restore parts of the castle still standing and then turn the village in attractive place it is today. The Joicey family will continue to own the Ford and Etal Estates, while the Etal Castle is in the care of English Heritage.

Images of the castle

Castles in England

Skipton Castle

North Yorkshire

Alnwick Castle

Northumberland

Carisbrooke Castle

South East England

Useful infos

Latitude: 55.6473352
Longitude: -2.1208038
See the map
See the images

Map of Etal Castle