Lambton Castle stands strongly in County Durham, North East England, between the beloved towns of Washington and Chester-le-Street. It is the ancestral home of the Lambton family, the Earls of Durham. It has been largely constructed in its present form by George Lambton, first Earl of Durham and one-time Governor-General of Canada.
The history of Lambton Castle
Lambton Castle is a dramatic castle surrounded by over 1000 acres of woodland. It is now listed in the mid-category of a listed building, Grade II. Lambton Park, which surrounds the castle is bordered by a high wall and is still used for an annual pheasant shoot.
The early history
The castle we see today was largely built between 1820 and 1828 by John Lambton, first Earl of Durham and one-time Governor-General of Canada. It was perfectly built around Harraton Hall, a large 17th-century mansion. The gorgeous castle itself was designed by well-known architects Joseph Bonomi the Elder and his son Ignatius.
Lambton Castle was built in the style of a Norman castle due to it being a popular architecture style at the time.
Sydney Smirke added later additions to the Lambton Castle between 1862 and 1865. These additions included the great hall, and they were all demolished in 1932. The structure had suffered greatly from subsidence. In the 1930s, the entire family moved to the much smaller Biddick Hall on the estate.
The park surrounding the castle is bordered by a high wall. The family keeps the park going in order to host the annual pheasant shoot. The grounds from 1972 until 1980 accommodated a venture which eventually closed known as Lambton Lion Park.
Later on, the family sold Biddick Woods which enabled a link road from the A182 to the A690 in Houghton le Spring and new business units.
In 2012, Lambton Castle was the main setting of the BBC One drama, The Paradise. In 2015, plans for the estate’s development were submitted to the local planning authority in order to help fund park upkeep and conservation. This was done alongside a vision to turn the castle into a wedding venue, boutique hotel, or both.
The plans were submitted by the Trustees of Lord Durham’s 1989 Voluntary Settlement, which manages the estate on behalf of the family.
The current day
These days, the Lambton Castle is somewhat of an anachronism. It stands completely empty but is still kept maintained and it remains the ancestral home of the Lambton family. It has sometimes been speculated that the family members have no wish, or simply cannot afford, to live at the castle.
In the same breath, it is reported that they will not allow the building to become a conference centre or hotel. Lambton Park which surrounds Lambton Castle is still used for an annual pheasant shoot.
Lambton Castle Timeline
- 1820 to 1828- The castle see today is built by John Lambton, first Earl of Durham and one-time Governor-General of Canada
- 1862 to 1865- Sydney Smirke adds later additions to the Lambton Castle including the great hall
- 1932- All of Sydney Smirke’s additions are demolished
- 1930s- The entire family moves to the much smaller Biddick Hall on the estate
- 1980- Lambton Lion Park closes
- 2012- Lambton Castle is the main setting of the BBC One drama, The Paradise
- 2015- Plans for the estate’s development are submitted to the local planning authority in order to help fund park upkeep and conservation
Lambton Castle facts
- Lambton Castle is the ancestral home of the Lambton family, the Earls of Durham
- Lambton Castle is now listed in the mid-category of listed building, Grade II
- Lambton Castle is surrounded by over 1000 acres of woodland
- Lambton Park, which surrounds the castle, is bordered by a high wall and is still used for an annual pheasant shoot
- For a short time, the castle’s grounds were also home to Lambton Lion Park
Featured in TV and film
- The Paradise (2012)
- Lady Macbeth (2016)
Books on Lambton Castle
- Lambton Castle, Durham. The House of the Earl of Durham by William MacKenzie (1860)
Who owns Lambton Castle?
The Lambton Estate, which includes Biddick Hall and Lambton Castle, has been owned by the aristocratic Lambton family and currently belongs to Edward ‘Ned’ Lambton the 7th Earl of Durham. However, it is run by the Trustees of Lord Durham’s 1989 Voluntary Settlement.
Lambton Castle allows for a lot of opportunities to visit. If you prefer a permanent stay, there are rental opportunities available. On top of that, the castle and estate are always being used to host events. You can head to the official website to find a list of upcoming events at the castle.
There are also many opportunities available at Lambton Park to work and live. Lambton Castle is the perfect place to host your event as it has plenty of space for marquees for all occasions. There is also ample parking available within easy walking distance. The curtilage of the castle is also a license for the sale of alcohol for entertainment.
At the castle, photographic opportunities are seemingly limitless as it is surrounded by stunning natural woodland, the River Wear, and gorgeous panoramic views from the Lambton Castle grounds over Lambton Park. The grounds of the castle offer every opportunity possible to create a truly unique event.
The main entrance to Lambton Park is just off the A183. From junction 63 of the A1, you can follow the A183, signposted for Sunderland. After around two miles, there is a Gulf service station on the right and the entrance to the park is directly opposite that. Lambton Castle is certainly the place to host your next event. With its many picturesque properties, it is the perfect place to make memories. Nearby, you can visit Angel of the North, Penshaw Monument, WWT Washington, and Herrington Country Park.