25 years ago this week: Friday, June 20, 1986

THE wraps will be taken off one of Northumberland’s best-kept secrets next weekend when Chillingham castle is opened to the public.

It will be the first time in its 800-year history that visitors will be able to explore the dungeons and rooms of the 12th century castle, which is set in 70 acres of gardens and woodlands in Chillingham Park.

This week teams of builders were still hard at work after three years of major restoration which has transformed the crumbling, derelict building to its former Elizabethan glory.

The castle is owned by arts connoisseur and writer Sir Humphry Wakefield who acquired it four years ago with the intention of making it his family home and a centre for the arts.

He is closely related to the Grey family, who were the original Earls of Tankerville and their descendants have owned Chillingham since the 15th century.

Castle administrator Mr Adrian Bennet has been involved with the project from the start and this week he said there was still considerable restoration work to be done.

“The East Wing which has basically collapsed has never been touched at all,” he said.

“We will be getting demolition experts in because we will have to collapse the rest of the roof.”

“During the next phase of work, we will put a new roof over the wing and put two floors in.”