Dilston Castle and Chapel

Dilston Castle and Chapel - A Jacobite Link

castleVery seldom can we visit Dilston Castle and Chapel but Michael Saxon arranged for the President of "The Fifteen", John Nicholls, to show us round. The Fifteen is the Northumbrian Jacobite Society which takes its name from the 1715 rising although the Society is now non-political and non-denominational but promotes interest in those who took part in the 1715 rising and the monuments including Dilston that are connected with them.

John Nicholls met us in the car park of Dilston Hall, which is now achapel wall school for the disabled, and escorted us to the Chapel and Castle which are situated on seperate land, of which the Society are tenants, but within the grounds of the school and hence the difficulty of access. He explained the way the property had been developed and how it came into the hands of the Ratclyffe family. He showed us the shielf and plaque on the outside of the chapel and the curious Roman tombstone incorporated into the East end.

John Nicholls also showed us over the castle and outlined its history and also that of the Radclyiffes who came to prominence under Richard III. However the family opposed the accession of George I and took part in the 1715 uprising.

castleIn 1621 the castle was acquired by the Radclyffes through the marriage of Edward Radclyffe and although recusants maaged to build a private Catholic chapel adjacent to the house in 1616. In 1622 Sir Francis Radclyffe incorporated the tower house into a new manor house, which eventually become known as Dilston Hall. The family lost the Hall and their lands in the Civil War as supporters of the Royalist cause. The property reverted back to the family at the Restoration and in 1709 the 3rd Earl began ambitious programme to replace the old house with a substantial mansion. The new mansion was never completed. The 3rd Earl James Radclyffe took part in the1715 rising was convicted of treason and executed in 1716. The ghost of his wife is reputed to haunt the castle.

We were told much more about the family and the details of the family vault in the chapel crypt but that is enough for now.