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Faire chamber, armoury and service quarters
BILLIARD ROOM was designed for use by the residents of the
convalescent home. It has a wooden ceiling and half panelled
walls with a carved frieze of flowers along the top of the
panels. There is a big fireplace with a carved stone mantle
and armchairs. Walls are lined with books with the billiard
table in the centre. At one end is a table set with silver
trays and crystal decanters.
The Faire Chamber is off this and is a very feminine room. The fireplace has a lovely carved wood over mantle.
There is a 1740 painted wood settle and chairs in a shade of pale green along the walls. There is a small beautiful inlaid wood table and glass fronted display cases with Meissen and Berlin figurines, including a lovely one of a coach pulled by two white horses and coachman.
In the archway, chamber pots are hidden in cupboards. There is a tapestry on the walls and a blue frieze with pink roses and stylised gilt foliage along the top of the walls.
A passageway lined with carved wood chests, tapestries and modern copies of two panels of the Bayeaux tapestry leads to stone steps up into the ARMOURY. This was originally the chapel and still has the round apse over the east end. It has coats of armour, chain mail, small cannons, flint lock guns and a ceremonial drum. On the walls are spears, halberts, swords and a shield.
Next is the COURT ROOM with panelled walls and pictures. Again there are display cases with china. Boxes containing the coronets and ermine robes of Lord and Lady Armstrong and there are the two chairs used by them at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. There is a Grandfather clock and a huge metal 16thC Tuscan marriage chest.
This was bought by the fourth Lord Armstrong for his wife after he saw it advertised in a catalogue. It was too big for their London home and was sent to Bamburgh, where a window had to be removed before it could be lifted in by a crane.
Stone stairs lead down to the KEEP HALL with its 145í deep Anglo-Saxon well which was the water supply for the castle. There are more armour and weapons on display. This leads into the service passage with a bakery with wall oven, wood paddle for putting the bread into the oven, working table and shelves with a display of earthenware bowls.
Beyond is the scullery with a bank of sinks along one wall with stone and wooden sinks with a protective metal top.
The sinks without a plughole were used for salting meat and fish. There are wooden drying racks for the dishes. A large marble top table used for making pastry now has wash basins and jugs on it. In a corner is a lead lined Victorian fridge and there is a metal warming cupboard with shelves and sliding doors. There is a knife sharpener, mangle and 1900s range with two large hot plates.
The last room on the tour is the dungeon complete with models in various states of agony. Wall recesses with a metal grille across contain bits of skeleton. It isnít particularly frightening and there is nothing to make you want to scream.
The tour ends as always in the shop which had little to interest us. The cakes in the cafe were a bit uninspiring too. The £1 castle guide is is very superficial mainly concentrating on the functions of the different rooms and architectural changes. There was little about Lord Armstrong who restored the castle to its present appearance or mention of his philanthropy and plans for a convalescent home.
Proud Bamburgh standing high above its surroundings must be on most peoples tick list. We visited 7 or 8 years ago and had really enjoyed the visit as the room guides were knowledgeable and talkative. We were looking forward to the visit, but came away today disappointed. There was little information in the rooms. It was busy and room stewards made little attempt to talk or engage with visitors.
Perhaps it is another of those places which are much more dramatic seen from the outside set against the sky with the huge expanse of sand backed by sand dunes and the North Sea.
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