The 12th century stronghold became the fully fortified Chillingham Castle in 1344 and the family bloodline has remained ever since. Sir Humphrey Wakefield holds the document giving the Royal permissions to add battlements. The castle was much besieged and battled, and the family all went off to those early wars in France. They captured a Norman castle in 1409 and were made Earls of Tankerville, and were even made Dukes in their early warrior days. There are many mentions in Shakespeare and in Royal archives. The many commanding generals of the castle include a record eighteen Knights of the Garter. Royal appointments were balanced out by no less than eight Executions for high treason! Family members chose different sides to support, and so Chillingham Estates survived and the loser always had ‘a friend at court’.
Chillingham occupied a strategic position during Northumberland’s bloody border feuds. Chillingham Castle was often under attack and often basked in the patronage of Royal visitors, a tradition that remains to this day. Sir Henry Wakefield was Treasurer of England to King Edward IV and, in the last century, Sir Humphry’s father, Sir Edward Wakefield, was both Treasurer and Comptroller of the Queen’s Household. In 1245, King Henry III came to Chillingham as did the Kings Edward I and James I. Charles I stayed here for three frantic nights shortly before he was imprisoned. Edward VIII came to hunt here, and members of today’s Royal family continue the tradition with private visits to the castle this century.
The medieval castle remains as it was, just with galleries that you see today added in Tudor days, for the visit of King James VI of Scotland. The King was en route to his English coronation as James I of England. The castle commander of that day was Queen Elizabeth’s godchild. He was the ‘go-between’ for the English/Scottish courts during those difficult times of the royal succession and kept fascinating diaries of those days.
A stay at Chillingham is to be thoroughly recommended. The accommodation is tremendously atmospheric and residing in the castle after daylight fades is guaranteed to send shivers up the spine. Whilst staying in the Tower apartment and preparing lunch, I was irritated by noise of children running up and down the corridor outside. The giggling and stomping continued for the best part of half an hour before I could stand no more. On opening the apartment door, I heard the footsteps to my right, as I entered the corridor I could see the museum door swinging. Giving chase I ran across the room and down into the ticket area, where a guide sat waiting for visitors. On inquiring where the children had run to, she looked at me quizzically and asked me to call in to the office. The office assured me there were no children currently staying at the castle.
The EVPs from Chillingham are exceptional examples of relevance and intelligence; John Sage was employed at Chillingham as a torturer and Rachel had indeed brought her harp to the castle but had only played to herself. Rachel mentally "hears" the phrase "ask them", that matches the EVP captured immediately before she speaks.