A 3-day historical tour of Northumberland: Your ultimate itinerary
- By Matfen Hall
- June 21, 2021
England’s northernmost county, our beautiful Northumberland is a land where Roman occupiers once guarded a walled frontier, Norman lords built castles to suppress rebellion, and Anglian invaders fought with Celtic natives. It’s here where, now, you can immerse yourself in sights of small-scale remains, fully restored sites that dominate the coast, haunted castles and UNESCO World Heritage sites – and here at Matfen Hall, our magnificent estate sits at the very heart of it all.
For those of you looking to visit this incredible county and uncover the extraordinary history scattered across it, discover our 3-day historical itinerary for your adventure with us, below.
Make the most of your escape into the heart of historic Northumberland and, before checking in for your magnificent stay with us, familiarise yourself with the beauty of the immediate local area here at Matfen Hall with a journey to the world-famous Hadrian’s Wall – a part of which is located a mere 2 miles from our grand estate.
Built 2,000 years ago and now recognised as a globally-renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hadrian’s Wall stretches 73 miles coast-to-coast and dominates the wild and beautiful Northumberland landscape. Built by a force of 15,000 men in under six years with a view to guard the wild, north-west frontier of the Roman Empire, it’s as astounding today for its required vision as it is for its skilled engineering. During your journey here, choose to walk a section of it and visit the famed beauty spot, Sycamore Gap, or take a photo of this historic structure to look back on.
Following your morning of exploring and after checking in to the Hotel, take a sip of your complimentary welcome drink and enjoy a few moments settling in to your beautiful room. Then, the choice of what you do next is yours – whether this involves escaping the stresses of everyday life by enjoying a relaxing and rejuvenating treatment by our specialist therapists in The Retreat, or taking a leisurely drive to the nearby historic market town of Hexham.
Just a stone’s throw away from Matfen Hall, this charming market town consisting of picturesque parks and beautiful architecture, boasts a fascinating bloody history. During your afternoon stroll, make sure to visit Hexham Abbey and the Old Gaol to gain an understanding of what this town was once home to.
Proudly standing as one of the earliest seats of Christianity in England, the site of Hexham Abbey comprises 1,300 years of dramatic history. Today, it’s home to a wealth of artefacts that are able to be enjoyed by the public, with a number of fascinating exhibits and hands-on experiences to enjoy. Following your visit to the Anglo-Saxon-Abbey, look to experience what life was like for prisoners in the 1300s as you step into the oldest purpose-built prison in England. Located in the heart of Hexham, Hexham Old Gaol stood as a prison for nearly 500 years. Pay a visit if you dare and descend into the dungeon, learn about the Reivers family history, try the stocks, and imagine what a prisoner’s fate would look like while awaiting trial in nearby Moothall.
After your morning of exploring and afternoon of historical wanderings, head back to our grand estate and choose to enjoy a culinary experience in the Emerald Restaurant or a lighter, bistro-style meal in the Needham bar overlooked by the watchful eye of our Needham Crest.
After a wonderful night’s rest in one of our Luxury Rooms, slip into your cosy robes and slippers, open your complimentary newspaper in your private seating area and ring up the curtains to watch the breathtaking Northumberland sun rise over Matfen Park and the wondrous countryside beyond.
Prepare properly for the historical adventures of the day ahead, and make your way downstairs where you’ll enjoy a wonderful breakfast before you embark on your quest to explore Northumberland’s colourful history.
Before you go, read up on the history of the Border Reivers. Known as families of raiders who occupied land along the Anglo-Scottish border from the late 13th century to the beginning of the 17th century, Border Reivers caused turmoil in Northumberland particularly during the 16th and 17th centuries. As part of their activities, reiving families – with common surnames including the Robsons, Daggs, Charltons, Dodds and Armstrongs – raided local farms and houses, sometimes even committing murders to ensure they got away with their stolen goods. To protect their livestock and families, fortified farmhouses called bastle houses and pele towers were built in clusters all over Northumberland – many of which still remain and can be visited during your trip to Matfen Hall.
Just 7 miles from Matfen Hall, and 1 mile from Hadrian’s Wall near Chollerton, survives Cocklaw Tower, built by the Erringtons in the 15th century. Further afield, 24 miles from our grand estate, is where you’ll find Black Middens Bastle House. Located in an isolated spot on the north side of the Tarset Valley near Kielder Water and Forest Park, this bastle house is the starting point of a fantastic walking route that takes visitors past a number of examples of the valley’s fortified farmhouses.
For those of you keen to spend time close to the coast during your historical expedition, Northumberland won’t disappoint with the highest concentration of castles of any other region in the UK – many of them scattered along the coastline. Start off with a trip to the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle which was once one of the largest and grandest fortifications in Northern England. Then, walk along the beach towards the 11th century Norman castle of Bamburgh, before making your way to the isolated, 16th century Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island during low tide.
On your return to our magnificent estate, indulge your senses and enjoy a pre-booked relaxing Treatment or Ritual from our luxury partners, ila and Natura Bissé, by one of our specialist therapists that will transport your mind, body and spirit to a complete state of tranquility. Following this, make your way to our beautiful Orangery and enjoy a bistro style dinner overlooking Matfen Park before enjoying a night cap in our beautiful bar, 1832.
During your final morning waking up to our high, historic ceilings and beautiful views across our estate, enjoy a coffee in the Great Hall after breakfast before leaving us on the last leg of your Northumberland adventure.
With so many fascinating sites and areas of historical interest to explore in Northumberland, you won’t need to drive far until you find your next stop off point on the way home. For those of you heading south, why not stop off at the fairytale-esque Prudhoe Castle, located just 8 miles from Matfen Hall? Having withstood two sieges during the 1170s – making it the only Northumberland castle to completely resist the Scottish forces – this impressive, long-lived fortress is one not to be missed during your Northumberland adventure.
To the west, sat on the bank of the river Tipalt, choose to explore the 12th century Thirlwall Castle, while for those of you travelling North, we recommend stopping off at the hidden gems of Northumberland – the Ford and Etal Estates – where you can visit the ruined Etal Castle, walk across the world-famous Flodden Battlefield, wander down the beautiful main street and try not to be tempted by the array of local cafe spots and Northumberland’s only thatched-roof pub.
Wherever you decide to visit during your historic tour of Northumberland, here at Matfen Hall, we are perfectly positioned to allow you to explore the very best the region has to offer. Plan your special journey and book your stay with us, today.