Lindisfarne Castle was first built in the 1550s following the dissolution of the Priory on Holy Island. The fort was completed in 1570 and continued in service until 1893. In 1901 Sir Edwin Lutyens was tasked by his friend Edward Hudson to convert the building into a comfortable holiday home, which in turn saw many features of the fort lost, but several were sympathetically incorporated into the design. The fort’s military history was relatively quiet, although two Civil War sieges of sorts along with an audacious capture by Jacobite rebels in 1715, not to mention the great activity in the 16th century would counter that claim. The guns were removed in 1819 and probably didn’t return until the 1850s, with the Castle being manned by Royal Navy personnel in the interim. From the 1850s until the end of the fort’s life, the garrison was made up of three Royal Artillerymen and their families, supplemented by local volunteer forces such as the Percy Volunteer Artillery. The armament was constantly changed, with the fixed guns and crenulations being finally removed in 1882 to make way for three 64lb RMLs; two on the Lower Battery and one on the Upper. The Queen Battery was not rearmed. On the decommissioning of the fort, the three guns were taken to nearby Goswick Sands for use in a coastal defence battery..
The above photographs were kindly supplied by Nick Lewis, House Stward at Lindisfarne Castle
The two Yeomans and Bland plans form the survey of 1883. The vaulted ceilings in the interior rooms were installed in the mid 18th century to take the weight of guns on a new north-facing battery (the ‘Queen Battery’, the Lower and Upper Batteries face East and South respectively). The Long Stairs are one of the least-altered spaces in the Castle, along with the ground floor passageways leading to the Ship Room and Dining Room. The old western blockhouse (now connected to the rest of the building by Lutyens’ Long Gallery) was home to the two storerooms. You can just make out the word on the door! You can see on the 1883 plans how much was altered in the rooms themselves when compared to the Lutyens room plan.
The major Lutyens renovation here in 1902-1912 converted the building into a comfortable holiday home but many features remain, while the structure itself dates back as far as about 1560. The first thing the visitor sees as the climb to the Lower Battery are the two 1882 emplacements and no obvious sign of how to get inside (surely a typical Lutyens prank!) and throughout the house are reminders of the old fort. Most interesting I think are the doors into two store rooms; in the right light you can still make out the words ‘MAGAZINE’ and ARTILLERY STORES FOR SMALL STORES’, along with a lock by Hobbs of London (complete with broad arrow and War Department initials).
National Trust, Lindisfarne Castle, Holy Island, Berwick upon Tweed, Northumberland: TD15 2SH