Sunderland Guide: Hylton Castle

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Location: Accessible directly from Washington Road by both car and bus, north of the River Wear

Hylton Castle is a medieval stone castle which has stood for over 600 years. Originally owned by the Hylton Family, who overseen the “Lordship of Hylton” in the surrounding area, the structure has become of the most iconic historical sites of interest in Sunderland and following a £4.5 million pound restoration funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, has become suitable for visitors and tourists. Adjacent to the castle is also a former medieval church: St. Catherine’s Chapel.

In Old English, Hylton means “Hill Farm” and had become associated with the area both north and south of the river. Originally built in wood, and then later in stone by 1390, it had come to symbolize the family’s wealth and dominance over the area. The initial castle was significantly larger than what it is today, as old paintings show, and was reduced in size over the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as being redesigned. The Hylton family line had died off by 1746, and the building went through a multitude of purposes which ultimately seen it in and out of use.

Since 2018, the castle has been undergoing restoration. This has included preserving the masonry, constructing a steel frame inside the building to allow new floors and a lift shaft, a modern roof covering, archaeological checks to prepare for a new car park, as well as the creation of classrooms, a café, exhibition and flexible community spaces for meetings and events.

A popular local ghost story known as the “Cauld Lad” is associated with Hylton castle. The story goes that the facility is haunted by the spirit of a young man who died at the hands of the Baron of Hylton, and repeatedly remarks that is “cauld” (cold), making the castle as spooky as it is interesting in reflection of local history.

Nearby amenities: Wessington Way KFC, McDonalds, Co-op Hylton Castle