Morpeth has the title of 'county town' and grew up at an important crossing point of the River Wansbeck. Following the Norman Conquest the town came into the possession of the de Merlay family, and a motte and bailey castle had been constructed by 1095. Morpeth Castle was built in the fourteenth century by Ranulph de Merlay on the site of an earlier fortress: only the gatehouse and parts of the ruined castle walls remain.
Among historical landmarks in the town are a free-standing 17th-century clock tower, a grand town hall originally designed by Sir John Vanbrugh, Collingwood House the Georgian home of Admiral Lord Collingwood, and a 13th-century chapel called The Chantry which is now the tourist information centre and houses such cultural institutions as the Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum.
Today the town and the county's history and culture is celebrated at the annual Northumbrian Gathering. In September 1966 a modest concert of Northumbrian music and song was held to raise funds for Morpeth Antiquarian Society. It was the inspiration for a one-day Northumbrian festival in March 1968 which evolved into the Morpeth Gathering.
The festival includes a vast array of competitions including crafts, performance and writing. Events of local interest have been added to the programme of concerts, singarounds, barn dance, storytelling, theatre and street performance which includes a young people's pageant as part of the Border Cavalcade. The emphasis of the Gathering is firmly upon the native traditions of Northumberland and whilst there is plenty of scope for traditional music from all over the British Isles within the festival, the wealth of local culture is well to the fore.
Carlisle Park is a beautiful open space in the heart of Morpeth in Northumberland. Hugging the southern bank of the River Wansbeck, this special park is a Local Nature Reserve and a Site of Nature Conservation Interest. It contains two scheduled ancient monuments, The William Turner Garden, vibrant formal gardens and one of the few remaining working paddling pools in the North East, as well as lawn bowls, tennis, extensive play areas, ancient woodlands and lots more!
The Countess of Carlisle donated the land on which Carlisle Park sits to the town of Morpeth in 1916 and the park was opened on 11th September 1929 by the six year old Earl of Carlisle. The Park has become a treasured possession of the people of Morpeth and draws visitors from miles around. However, the site of Carlisle Park has been an important location for Morpeth for much longer. The park contains the remains of Morpeth Castle, originally built in the 13th and 14th centuries, and an 11th century motte and bailey, both defended the town against invasions from the north, and are now scheduled ancient monuments.
Morpeth also offers excellent shopping, with the recent re-development of the Sanderson Arcade. This stylish shopping centre includes Marks and Spencer, New Look, Yeoman's, The Body Shop, O2, Clarks, Timpson, Laura Ashley, Waterstones, Lakeland, Crew Clothing Company and many more.
For a complete guide to Morpeth, including attractions, eating out and amenities visit the Morpeth Guide, part of Your Northumberland Guide.
Local Area & History >