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My HOMEPAGE for Newcastle Upon Tyne, County Durham and Northumbria 37. Newcastle area (7) The Black gate & Castle Keep

 Scenes of  Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland

  North East Index


THE BLACK GATE

Newcastle Castle Keep

The Black Gate, Newcastle: The Black Gate is nearly 770 years old, built in 1247-1250 it functioned as the principal gateway into Newcastle Castle. The name Newcastle derives from the building of this new castle! The Black gate had two upper storeys added in the 17th century and was restored by R. J. Johnson in 1883-1884.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

The Black Gate, Newcastle: You can see the change in the stonework where the two upper storeys have been added. Part of the bailey wall (town wall) of the castle compound can be seen on the right. The name 'Black Gate' is not derived from its appearance, but from one named Patrick Black who lived in the building in the first half of the 17th century. It was the chief messuage (house) in the Castle Garth when the Black Gate house was leased by James 1st in 1619. The upper parts were extensively remodelled by John Pickell whose name and date of 1636 are inscribed in stone high up on the south side of the building. John Pickell also used the Black Gate as a tavern!

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

The Black Gate, Newcastle: The Black Gate was the final addition to the medieval castle defences. It was a barbican, which has an additional gate and walled entrance projecting from the earlier north gate. On either side of the passage through the gateway there are vaulted chambers, thought to have been guardrooms, though the Black Gate building has been altered several times from the 17th century to the present day.

 

The Black Gate, Newcastle: The pointed arch vaulting of the Black Gate passage way. By the mid 19th century the Black Gate had become a slum of tenement housing of an estimated 60 people and a pub, the 'Two Bulls Heads'. It would have been demolished, but this great historic building was thankfully saved by the actions of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, who became tenants in 1883. The Black Gate structure was cleaned and restored under the direction of the architect R. J. Johnson.

After the Civil War the tenement houses were rebuilt and more added until by the end of the 18th century, the castle was surrounded by housing. However, clearance around the Black gate area began in 1810 with the construction of the new Moot Hall, the 'job' being completed when the first railway viaduct was built across Castle Garth.

 


NEWCASTLE CASTLE KEEP

The visible remains of the12th century stone Castle include parts of the curtain wall on the south and east, the might Keep (built 1168-1178) and the barbican, the Black Gate of 1247-1250 (described above). The New Castle, which gives Newcastle its name was built in 1080 by Robert Courthouse, the eldest son of William the Conqueror. The original basic earth and timber castle structure was fully rebuilt and extended in stone on the same site in the second half of the 12th century. The site of Newcastle Castle has been used since prehistoric times. The Romans built a fort here called Pons Aelius which overlooked and guarded the River Tyne crossing. From the 8th century to the first castle, the site was used as a Saxon cemetery and on enclosure within defensive walls, it thus became the Castle Garth. By the early 14th century the Castle was enclosed and isolated within the perimeter of the Town Wall, so the Castle's defensive role was reduced to a Royal supply base. The curtain walls and many buildings fell into disuse and the site became a bit of a tip for the townsfolk!

Fortunately for us, the Keep has survived and is a most interesting piece of medieval architecture to explore (at a very small cost in entry fee!). There are also magnificent views from the roof parapets of the centre of Newcastle, many church spires, fine Georgian buildings on the Quayside and of course, the bridges over the River Tyne.

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: In 1400, Newcastle became a county in its own right and the Castle Garth remained part of the County of Northumberland. The Keep became a prison for the County. The medieval Moot Hall (gone!) became the assizes courts. The Castle Garth was leased by King James I in 1619 to one of his courtiers, Alexander Stephenson, parts of which were sub-let for houses and workshops. During the Civil War the Castle was re-fortified with artillery positions and some houses demolished to give a clearer line of fire! The siege of Newcastle ended in October 1644 when the Royalist garrison surrendered to Cromwell's parliamentary New Model Army.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: One of the displays in the museum - the history of the castle and environs. Newcastle Castle Keep is one of the best surviving examples in Britain, built on the orders of King Henry II between 1168 and 1178. The Castle was the dwelling place of the Constable who commanded the garrison, and a centre for the administration of royal justice in Northumberland.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: Medieval and later pottery found from archaeological investigation digs. The Castle is built on a steep sided promontory on the north side of the River Tyne, and as in Roman times, guarding a vital north-south river crossing.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: museum display

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: The Queen's Chamber room was originally used as a solar or private chamber. It has an original fireplace and garderobe (toilet!). There is also a staircase down to a small room sited below the Queen's Chamber called the Mezzanine Chamber which it lit only by two small loop holes in the north wall.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep:

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: The museum room.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: The steps leading down to the Chapel which lies directly below the fore-stair to the Keep.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: The chapel lies below the main external entrance stairway and underwent restoration in 1813 and 1848.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: The chapel's nave runs north-south with the chancel at right angles to it (so the chancel is aligned in the normal Christian building east-west direction) enabling the Chapel altar to be placed against the east wall. There is some lovely early Norman architecture in the Chapel of the Keep.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: The typical Norman zig-zag carvings on the Romanesque curved door arch in the chapel.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: The Chapel is a rib-vaulted room of three bays, two oblong ones for the nave and a third nearly square for the chancel.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: The piscina in the chapel, which may not be original?

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: The lovely vaulted arches of the Chapel

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: Finely carved arches over the deeply recessed Norman windows in the chapel.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: The Chapel

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: The roof vaulting of the Chapel, the ribs are decorated with zigzag patterns in one bay and chains of beads in the others.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: The chapel

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: The Chapel is a beautiful and remarkable survivor of Norman architecture

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: The chapel

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: The chapel

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: Round stone pillars and roof vaulting of the Garrison Room

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: It isn't known what the original function of the 'Garrison Room' was, but from the 16th century to the 18th century it was used as the gaol for the County of Northumberland. The Garrison room was probably originally used for storage.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: Some coats of arms and headless figures that once stood on the parapets of the town walls. The middle stone carved Royal Arms of England 1340-1405 shield was originally set on the front of the barbican of the New Gate of the town wall. The New Gate was demolished in 1823.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: This carved stone has shield bearing a goat's head with the initials RS on either side and above is the date 1596 and below the head of a halberd. The stone comes from the front of an old house at the corner of High Bridge and the initials are probably those of Richard Swinburne of Newcastle.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: This inscribed stone bears an unidentified crest, probably originating from an old house in Newcastle and seems to include birds, a crown, wolf or dog?

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: The King's Chamber was originally used as a solar or private chamber and has an original fireplace and a garderobe (lavatory) reached through a door in the north wall. Both the long walls of the room have graffiti dating from the Civil War and was the last place of resistance by the Royalist garrison in the siege of 1644.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: The Main Hall or Great Hall area in the central part of the Keep.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep:

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep:

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: The Keep was place of refuge if the castle was besieged and therefore a clean water supply was essential and so in the 'Well Room' beneath the wooden cover is a well 99 ft deep of which about 40 ft is water.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: The paved flat roof has crenellated parapets and corner turrets was constructed in the 1810-1812 restoration and was in tune with the contemporary taste for 'Gothick' (Gothic) architecture.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep: The tower of St Nicholas Cathedral, the Black Gate and the side of one of the turret towers.

Newcastle Castle Keep

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

On the left the tower of St Nicholas Cathedral and lower centre, the Black Gate.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

View of Newcastle station from the roof of Newcastle Castle Keep.

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

The Tyne Bridge and swing bridge from the roof of the Castle Keep

 

Newcastle Castle Keep

The top of the Grey Monument viewed from the roof of the Castle Keep.

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NEWCASTLE-GATESHEAD area picture index: webpage & (section) 1. Newcastle-upon-Tyne-Gateshead area (1) River Tyne and Bridges Newcastle Castle Keep:  2. Newcastle-Gateshead area (2) Sage Theatre & Concert Hall & Baltic Arts Centre Gateshead Newcastle Castle Keep:  14a. Newcastle area (3) Some buildings in the centre of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Newcastle Castle Keep:  15. Newcastle area(4) Some 'artwork' and the Laing Art Gallery Newcastle Castle Keep:  23. Newcastle area (5) The Angel of the North Newcastle Castle Keep:  37. Newcastle area (6) The Black gate and Castle Keep Newcastle Castle Keep:  38. Newcastle area (7) The Cathedral Newcastle Castle Keep:  39. Newcastle (8) Hancock Museum of the North Newcastle Castle Keep:  40. Newcastle (9) Bessie Surtees House Newcastle Castle Keep:  41. Newcastle-Gateshead (10) More Churches, Medieval Walls, Gateshead Tourist Information Centre  Newcastle Castle Keep:  52. Newcastle (11) The Discovery Museum - History of Tyneside Newcastle Castle Keep:  53. Newcastle (12) St Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral and All Saints Church Newcastle Castle Keep:  14b Newcastle (13) The Central Arcade and Holy Jesus Hospital SEE ALSO NE page 31a Jarrow (1) Bede's World Newcastle Castle Keep:  31b Jarrow (2) St Peter's Church, Monastery Newcastle Castle Keep:  35a. Tynemouth (1) Town and Castle Newcastle Castle Keep:  35b. Tynemouth (2) The Priory Newcastle Castle Keep:  36. Belsay Hall and Belsay Castle

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