Warkworth, Probus

Chillingham chat

Sunday, 7th August 2016, 5:00 am

The Warkworth Probus Club held its monthly lunch meeting at the Sun Hotel on Thursday, July 21, and had as its guest speaker Philip Deacon, who gave the members an extensive talk on the castle, church and wild cattle of Chillingham.

The castle can be traced back to the 12th century and there have been few architectural additions since these early days, apart from elaborate galleries, which were added in Tudor days in preparation for the visit of James VI en-route to his English coronation.

Although the present owner’s wife can trace her ancestry back to the original family, when they took possession of the castle in 1982 it was in a very dilapidated state and it has been a labour of love for Sir Humphrey to bring it back to its present condition.

St Peter’s Church dates from the same time as the castle, with the roof having been replaced in the 16th century and the bell cote added in the 18th.

The most interesting feature inside the church is the splendid 15th century alabaster tomb of the crusader knight Sir Ralph Grey and his wife Elizabeth.

This is said to be one of the finest tombs in the country and as the remains of red and blue paint are still visible it must have been stunning when first seen.

The wild cattle are world famous and have been grazing in Chillingham Park for the last 700 years.

Their numbers have varied through the years, with the present herd amounting to approximately 100.

In the past they have been hunted for sport, but since medieval ages they have remained untouched by human hands and are completely untamed.

As they are such a unique species there is now a small herd kept in the north of Scotland as a safeguard to the Chillingham herd being struck by disaster, such as foot-and-mouth disease.

In the most recent development research is being carried out into the possibility of keeping frozen embryos for the same reason.

Next month the club is visiting the BBC studios Newcastle in place of the usual lunch.

However, in September the normal programme will resume with a talk and demonstration of muzzle gun loading by John Elliot.

If this is of interest to any non-¬members they would be made most welcome.

We are always looking for new members.

If you would like to know more about Probus give Colin McClure a call on 01670 763006.