DiCamillo Companion

Chillingham Castle

  • House & Family History: Chillingham was originally a 12th century stronghold that was transformed into a fortified castle in the 14th century. In the 15th century Sir Ralph Grey, whose family was later created earls of Tankerville, acquired Chillingham. The family became a power in Northumberland and Chillingham was frequently involved in the bloody border feuds of Northumberland. Charles Augustus Bennet, Lord Ossulston, later 6th Earl of Tankerville (1809-99), married Lady Olivia Montague, daughter of the 6th Duke of Manchester, in 1850 and was lord steward to Queen Victoria between 1867 and 1868. Lord Ossulston is particularly noted today for the prominent role he plays in Edwin Landseer's painting "Death of the Wild Bull," or "Scene in Chillingham Park: Portrait of Lord Ossulston," which remained at Chillingham until the mid-20th century. The painting was purchased in 1983 by Malcolm Forbes for £187,000, then a record price for the artist at auction. The Forbes family sold the painting at Christie's on February 19, 2003 for £1.2 million. The feature of the painting is a white wild bull, part of a famous herd of wild white cattle that still survives at Chillingham. It is believed that the herd is directly descended from the indigenous wild cattle that populated Britain in ancient times; this herd, noted for their pinky white color and ferocious nature, is very likely the purest of all surviving herds of white cattle. The cattle are believed to have first been corralled within the park walls of the Castle in the 13th century when the king granted permission for Chillingham to be castellated and for a park wall to be built. Chillingham is frequently cited as the most haunted castle in Britain. Two chimneypieces from Wanstead House are today at Chillingham.

    Collections: Landseer was a friend of Lord Ossulston (later 6th Earl of Tankerville) and painted for him three paintings that once hung in the Dining Room at Chillingham. "The Deer of Chillingham Park" and "The Wild Cattle of Chillingham" are both today in the collection of the Laing Art Gallery, Tyne and Wear Museum, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, while "The Death of the Wild Bull" entered the Forbes Collection of Victorian Pictures, from whence it was sold on February 19, 2003 for £1.2 million.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The grounds contain a famous Elizabethan topiary garden and woodland walks.

  • Architect: John Paterson

    Date: 1803
    Designed: Rebuilt East Facade of House for 4th Earl of Tankerville

    View all houses

    Architect: Richard Cross

    Date: 1823
    Designed: Stables and outbuildings for 6th Earl of Tankerville

    View all houses

    Architect: Jeffry Wyatville (Wyattville) (Wyatt)

    Date: Circa 1825-28
    Designed: Alterations to House and Village Lodge for 5th Earl of Tankerville

    View all houses
  • John Bernard (J.B.) Burke, published under the title of A Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland, among other titles: 2.S. Vol. I, p. 67, 1854.

    Country Life: XXXIII, 346 plan, 1913.

  • Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 1995
    Reference: pgs. 211, 281, 740, 1133
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300072074
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Christie's Auction Catalog: The Forbes Collection of Victorian Pictures and Works of Art I, Feb 19, 2003
    Author: NA
    Year Published: 2003
    Reference: pgs. 64, 66, 69, 70
    Publisher: London: Christie's
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Disintegration of a Heritage: Country Houses and their Collections, 1979-1992, The
    Author: Sayer, Michael
    Year Published: 1993
    Publisher: Norfolk: Michael Russell (Publishing)
    ISBN: 0859551970
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Not Listed

  • "Elizabeth" (1998 - as Fotheringhay, scenes of the royal hunting lodge). "The Virgin Queen" (2005 - TV mini series, as Fotheringhay). "The Curious House Guest" (2006 - TV documentary series).
  • Current Seat / Home of: Sir Humphrey Wakefield, Bt.

    Past Seat / Home of: Sir Charles Grey, 15th century. Charles Augustus Bennet, Lord Ossulston, later 6th Earl of Tankerville, 19th century.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

  • House Open to Public: Yes

    Phone: 01668-215-359

    Fax: 01668-215-463

    Email: enquiries@chillingham-castle.com

    Website: http://www.chillingham-castle.com

    Historic Houses Member: Yes