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Warkworth in 1839

Warkworth is in the east division of Morpeth hundred, about 306 or 308 miles from London. The parish has an area of 16,110 acres, divided into eighteen, townships : the population of Warkworth township, in 1831 was 614 ; that of the whole parish 2,478. The town is on the south side of the river Coquet. There are a number of good houses, the place being, from the cheapness of provisions and other necessaries, considered a desirable place of residence. The church is an elegant and spacious building, part of it of considerable antiquity ; the tower and spire are above 100 feet high. There are places of worship for Methodists and Presbyterians. Immediately adjacent to the town is the ancient castle, held at different periods by the descendants of Roger FitzRichard, and by the families of Raby and Percy, to the latter of which it still belongs. It is a noble pile, finely situated on an eminence above the river Coquet. The keep is an octagon, having a projecting tower in the middle of the four principal faces. The entrance is by a flight of steps in the tower on the south face. The whole building is very large, and comprehends many apartments. The great baronial hall is nearly 40 feet long by 24 wide, and 20 high ; and there is another state-room of rather smaller dimensions. Just within the entrance, on the ground-floor, are eight apartments with vaulted roofs of stone, supposed to have been designed for the cattle which might be brought into the castle for protection against the inroads of the Scotch borderers. The masonry of the castle is in excellent preservation, but the roof, windows, and floors are for the most part gone. The outer walls of the castle in many places entire; where they are so, they are 35 feet high. The gateway was a stately building, with apartments for many of the officers of the castle, but only a portion of it now remains. A mound of earth across the moat, which surrounds the whole and encloses an area of five acres, has taken the place of the ancient drawbridge. Some other parts of the castle yet remain. The period at which this structure was built is not ascertained. The view from it is very extensive and beautiful. There is a bridge of two spacious arches over the Coquet at the north side of the town, having a tower at the south or town end, with an archway through which the road passes : in the middle of the bridge is a stone pillar, with the Percy arms carved on it. In the perpendicular rocks which form the north bank of the Coquet, about a mile above the bridge, is a hermitage, consisting of two apartments hewn out of the rock, with a lower and outward apartment of masonry, built up .against the side of the rock, which rises about 20 feet high. The principal apartment, or chapel, is about 18 feet long, 7 feet wide, and 7 feet high, adorned with pilasters, from which spring the groins of the roof : at the east end is an alter, with a niche behind it for a crucifix ; and near the alter is a cavity containing a cenotaph, with a recumbent female figure having the hands raised in the attitude of prayer. In the inner apartment are another altar and a niche for a couch. From this inner apartment was a door leading to are open gallery or cloister. Steps led up from the hermitage to the hermit’s garden at the top of the bank. This hermitage, it has been supposed, was the abode of one of the Bertram family, who spent here a life of penitence for the murder of his brother : the Percy family, after his death, maintained a chantry priest here. There is no record to show the date of this foundation.

There are several good shops in the town. There is a yearly fair in November for fat cattle and winter stock. There is a fishery of salmon and salmon trout (especially the latter) in the river. Warkworth is a borough by prescription : the principal officer is the boroughreeve or mayor. The parish yields excellent coal, freestone, limestone, and whinstone : valuable pebbles are sometimes found in the river. The living is a vicarage, of the clear yearly value of £528, with a glebe-house. There were in the township, in 1833, one infant-school, with 26 children ; three day-schools, with 78 children; and two national schools, with 86 children in the week and 111 on Sundays.