Summer at Lindisfarne Castle
This year the experience at Lindisfarne Castle is slightly unusual, and it definitely isn’t “business as usual”. Reopening after a major conservation project and with re-plastered walls that need to dry out, the castle is not as you know it.
The building is completely empty of its collection for the first time, so visitors have a unique, perhaps once in a lifetime, opportunity to see its ten rooms completely stripped back and the quirky features of the Lutyens architecture highlighted as a result; elaborate door latches, windows at unusual heights, nooks and crannies and narrow staircases are all easier to spot around the building.
This has also allowed us to work with Turner nominated artist Anya Gallaccio to give visitors a new perspective of the Castle. "dreamed about the flowers that hide from the light" is a contemporary art installation that has transformed the Castle into a landscape of colour using large geometric oak sculptures swaddled in organic dyed blankets. The blanket colours have taken inspiration from plants and flowers found in Gertrude Jekyll’s garden, to give visitors a feeling of the outdoors coming in. Taking you on a journey of colour through the castle, the exhibition shows several of its rooms as they have never been seen before.
Parts of the castle remain wrapped in scaffolding until the end of August as its £3 million restoration project draws to a close. This offers a unique opportunity to see the exterior of the castle in a different way, the scaffold skeleton representing what is likely to be, again, a once in a lifetime opportunity to view and photograph the iconic profile of the castle in a way that is completely different, for a brief period of its history. When visiting, chat to our visitor welcome assistants to find out more about the project and the work that we’ve been doing to conserve this special place, and look out for the very rare wall paintings on the kitchen wall, uncovered during the works.
Also when inside the castle, be sure to go up onto the observation scaffold for unprecedented views out towards the Farne islands and Bamburgh castle, and spot seals through the scope with one of our volunteers.
Outside of the castle, there is a lot to explore. The castle crag is covered in wildflowers and the Gertrude Jekyll garden is a small yet perfectly formed jewel in the landscape; ablaze with summer colour and fragrance, Gertrude Jekyll designed it to be at its very best while Edward Hudson was enjoying his holiday home – Lindisfarne Castle. Wander across the field and take a seat amongst the flowers, listen to the sounds of the sea, buzzing bees and perhaps the ghostly sound of the seals on Ross Sands “singing” drifting over the Island. If you spot a plant that you love and would like to take home with you to your own garden, the chances are we will have it in the plant section of our shop in the village.
If the kids need to run off some energy go for a walk around the castle headland where they can tick off some 50 Things to do before you’re 11 and ¾ - skim a stone, go birdwatching and fly a kite. With impressive views back towards the castle, the headland is great spot to get some sea air, spot seals swimming and to stop for a picnic.
Whilst you’re wandering, be sure to go and see the impressive 19th Century Limekilns; the structure is beautiful and the scale surprising; the kilns are some of the best preserved examples in the UK. And they’re a great place for our younger visitors to enjoy a game of hide and seek!