Lindisfarne Castle and Priory Holy Island Northumberland reachable along a causeway for an hour or so either side of low water, an Island full of character and lots of history. Approaching the causeway notice the straight line of poles? These mark the Pilgrims Way- even today a few visitors choose to reach the island walking much as the Pilgrims have done for nearly a thousand years.
The dunes and salt marsh are a national nature reserve, and an important winter home to thousands of seabirds- particularly waders. Check Holy Island tide times for safe crossing times before setting out. Old fishing boats covered in pitch used as stores by the local fishermen Creel pots piled high The priory ruins, (much of the stone was re-used to built the nearby castle starting in 1543 following the Dissolution) and the cottages.
The Tudor castle standing guard over the harbour. Last used for military purposes as a garrison the Castle was bought in by 1901, by Edward Hudson, the founder of Country Life magazine who commissioned the then young and comparatively unknown architect Edward Lutyens to turn it into a home.
Much of the original fabric of the castle remains, including great fireplaces, arched roofed rooms with huge chimneys. Many guidebooks quote the castle as being 'small and intimate' but you may be like me surprised at its size and the number of rooms. On a clear day enjoy the superb views from the Upper Battery A short walk from the Castle is a walled garden planned by the designer by Gertrude Jekyll. Recently replanted in accordance with her original planting scheme, using as many of the original cultivars as it was possible to source. In mid summer a blaze of colour, from gladioli, to sweet pea to phlox to roses such as 'Hugh Dickson'.
The priory dates from Norman times and is itself built on the site of an Anglo-Saxon monastery founded following the visit of St Aidan in AD 635. Then destroyed by the Vikings and rebuilt some 400 years later as a Benedictine Priory. Following the death of St Cuthbert the monks were to produce what was to become one of the finest 7th century manuscripts, the Lindisfarne Gospels, now housed in the British Museum. St Cuthbert lived on the nearby Farne Islands from AD 676 becoming Bishop of Lindisfarne in AD 685 upon request of King Eyfrid.
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