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Aydon Castle
Aydon, Northumberland, England
Aydon Castle 2.jpg
Aydon Castle
Coordinates 54°59′25″N 2°00′00″W / 54.9904°N 2.0000°W / 54.9904; -2.0000Coordinates: 54°59′25″N 2°00′00″W / 54.9904°N 2.0000°W / 54.9904; -2.0000
Type Fortified manor house
Site information
Owner English Heritage
Open to
the public
Yes
Condition Restored
Site history
Events Scottish Wars of Independence

Aydon Castle, previously sometimes called Aydon Hall, is a fortified manor house at Aydon near to the town of Corbridge, Northumberland, England. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and is designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building.

History

Early History

Documentary evidence shows that a timber hall first existed on this site.

The land was originally purchased by Hugh de Raymes, a major Suffolk merchant, in 1296. Hugh purchased the property from what was the estate of an impoverished neighbor in the hopes of increasing his social stature and influence. When Hugh de Raymes died in 1295, his son Robert took over ownership of the property. It was Robert who moved his household and made Aydon Hall their primary residence. The move was believed to be due to opportunities for Robert in the Scottish Wars of Independence, and it is known that Robert fought in Scotland between 1297 and 1298. Robert is believed to have fought at the Falkirk in 1298 against the Scottish forces of William Wallace. Upon Robert's return from fighting in Scotland, he began the construction of the first stone structure. Aydon had previously featured a wooden structure with a two-story chamber block.

The original manor house began construction in 1296. At the time of its initial construction, the manor did not feature any defensive works or fortifications. Shortly after the stone construction began, Robert de Raymes added a two story hall range. Initially there was little need for fortifications to exist in Aydon. However, this changed in 1305 when Aydon Hall received permission to add crenelations. It is possible that the crenelations were added only to increase the status of the hall, but it would soon prove necessary to fortify the hall beginning in 1311 and 1312, as Scottish border reivers began to launch raids into English territory. Aydon itself was attacked during this time, successfully repelling at least two known assaults by Scottish forces. These Scottish raiders managed to damage and destroy the surrounding area, but were unable to capture Aydon Hall itself.

The military and political situation became dire for the English in Northumberland following the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Aydon Castle was captured by the Scots in 1315 after the governor of the castle surrendered to the besieging forces. Aydon Castle was pillaged, burnt, and severely damaged by the Scots following the surrender of the garrison. The castle was further damaged in 1317 by English raiders seeking to loot whatever the Scots had left. The owner of Aydon Castle, Robert de Raymes, had been captured at Bannockburn and had been financially ruined by the destruction of his home and the 500 mark ransom he had paid for his release. Robert died in 1324 with little to his name. By this point in time, the estate was considered worthless.

Late History

Robert's son, also named Robert de Raymes, inherited the castle after his father's death. Robert II rebuilt and enhanced the fortifications that had been destroyed when the estate was captured. When Robert II de Raymes died in 1349, the property came into the ownership of Nicholas de Raymes. Nicholas attempted to rebuild the previous fortunes that the family had enjoyed, but was ultimately forced to sell the estate by the 15th century. Aydon changed hands a number of times with little changes being made until the 17th century. From the 17th century onward, the castle was operated as a farmhouse.

Today

The status of Aydon Hall as a farmhouse ended in 1966 when the property was opened to the public as a historic site. The site has been owned and operated by English Heritage in recent years, who have the structure listed as a Grade I listed building. The location is popular for tourists and locals, and is considered to be an excellent example of a fortified manor house.

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