Things to do in Lindisfarne Castle
Standing on a crag 100 feet above the sea, Lindisfarne Castle has always been the biggest draw to this corner of Holy Island. Explore the castle’s rooms, from the cosy Dining Room and functional Kitchen to the ornate but practical wind indicator and imagine how its residents would have lived. From March 2022, experience artist Paul Rooney's immersive sound piece 'Song (After Nature)' in the Upper Gallery.
Explore the castle’s rooms
Wander inside Lindisfarne Castle to get a feel for what it might have been like for residents and guests in centuries past.
Step inside the castle via the Entrance Hall, renovated in 1912 by Edwin Lutyens with columns to imitate the nave of Durham Cathedral. See how the columns ‘grow’ out of the floor, part of Lutyens’ theme of the castle being part of the crag.
Look out for the symmetry of the room (Lutyens extended the hall into part of the old kitchen to achieve this) and don’t miss then-owner Edward Hudson’s initials, which he had embossed on the fireplace when the work was completed in 1912.
Though there has been a kitchen in this space since at least 1742, the one you’ll see today dates from about 1912 and would later become the domain of housekeepers Jack and Hannah Lilburn.
You can also see the Scullery, a simple, functional room full of original features. Note the wall paintings above the Scullery door, which were discovered in 2017 and date to the late 1600s.
The Dining Room
Step into the Dining Room to imagine Hudson entertaining his guests with champagne, lobsters and one of his long, signature speeches.
This was originally the castle’s kitchen, and the Tudor fireplace survives from this period, including a bread oven and salt hole. Note the window too, which was replaced during a 2017 project, based on Lutyens’ original drawing.
The Ship Room
The Ship Room used to be three separate spaces, including one of the castle’s two gunpowder magazines. By the 1850s it had been opened out.
Today, you’ll see Lutyens’ conversion, which he began in 1904. He reimagined it to become the castle’s Drawing Room, with a restored fireplace, comfortable furnishings and, of course, the model ship hanging from the ceiling.
The Long Gallery
Walk along the Long Gallery, which was built in 1904 to join the two buildings of the old fort together. Prior to that, this space was open to the elements. Look out for the doorway to the two bedrooms, which was added in 1912.
The North Bedrooms
See the three North Bedrooms, which were added in the summer of 1912. They occupy the former Queen’s Battery, which was intended to mount guns facing north, but probably never did.
The Upper Gallery
Explore the Upper Gallery, which was used for centuries as a storeroom, but which has also been a servants’ dormitory and a second drawing room. Perhaps you’d like to picture it during the time it served as a performance space for cellist Madame Suggia to perform concerts on the small stage.
The Upper Battery
Take in the panoramic views of the sea and the Northumberland coast from the Upper Battery. At one point it mounted 11 cannons. On a clear day you can see the Farne Islands, Bamburgh Castle, the Cheviot Hills, Berwick upon Tweed and the two navigation beacons opposite the castle.
More to see inside the castle
Elsewhere in the castle, keep an eye out for the original staircase leading to the Upper Battery and the low ceilings in the western end of the building. And don’t miss the surviving Victorian doors leading to the former gunpowder magazine, which is now Lutyens' West Bedroom.
The wind indicator
This decorative but practical gadget moves in real time to let you know which way the wind is blowing. Commissioned over a century ago, the wind indicator was installed in 1913 and, apart from some conservation work in 2006, has been turning all that time.
Believe it or not, it isn’t always windy on Holy Island so, depending on when you visit, you might not see the wind indicator moving.
Experience Paul Rooney's 'Song (After Nature)'
Experience Lindisfarne Castle in a completely different way to anything you may have seen (or heard) before.
We're exhibiting Paul Rooney's immersive sound piece 'Song (After Nature)' in the castle's Upper Gallery, along with nature images from the castle's collection and pieces of nature writing, some by local writers.
Text is projected among the objects, 'translating' the seal song as a playful yet grave warning of the climate catastrophe.
'The words of a siren song (the Homeric sirens sang irresistible songs from a bone scattered meadow, that resulted in death for any sailors who heard them), is a ‘translation’ of the seal’s calls. The song tries to lure the reader in, like an advert, offering knowledge (the deadly price for this leaks out at the end). The song’s knowledge is a warning of the future of the climate catastrophe, where nature is merely a remembered presence, a ghost.'
– Paul Rooney.
Some furnishings from the castle's collection have been brought back to weave a story between the installation and the castle's past inhabitants.
Hudson and his guests were drawn here as a place of escape, seeking sanctuary and an opportunity to reconnect with nature. The experience in the castle recreates that feeling, but with a dark undercurrent of over-indulgence and unsustainability, a metaphor for our relationship with the natural world.
Normal admission charges apply. Last entry is 1 hour before castle closing time.
Discover what family-friendly activities are on offer during October half term at Lindisfarne Castle in Northumberland, from bird and seal spotting to flying a kite and skimming stones in the sea.
From Gertrude Jekyll's Garden to fascinating boat sheds and lime kilns offering a window into Holy Island's industrial past, there's plenty to explore around Lindisfarne Castle.
Paul Rooney's immersive sound piece "Song: After Nature" is back for second year. Key items of the castles collection have been brought back to weave a tale of excess and unsustainability.
Discover the history of Lindisfarne Castle and its surrounds, from the area’s industrial past and curious boat sheds to the castle’s renovation and its dedicated caretakers.