The design of the great tower at Warkworth Castle is a masterpiece of English medieval architecture. The castle was probably laid out in its present form around 1200 and was developed by its later owners, the Percy family. As the Earls (and later Dukes) of Northumberland, they were among the greatest landowners in northern England.
The great tower was built around 1380 for the first earl of Northumberland. To understand the full impact of the tower in the middles ages it is necessary to imagine its elaborate crown of battlements and decoration (now lost) which reflected the exceptional status and power of Henry Percy’s earldom.
A brilliant piece of three-dimensional design, the tower incorporates chambers of different heights and sizes, all connected by an ingenious system of wall stairs. Restoration work in the mid-19th century brought Warkworth to the attention of leading French architect Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc. He copied the plans of the great tower to produce a model for an ideal country house.