The Cooking Utensils of Bamburgh Castle
Set in one of the fireplaces in Bamburgh Castle’s Great Kitchen is an 18th century meat dish. In 1786 a ‘Welfare State’ operated at the castle for almost a century. Set up by Dr Sharp, an enlightened trustee and benefactor at the castle Dr John Sharp, who threw himself into breathing new life into the castle and community of Bamburgh, it included a pharmacy, a hospital for the poor and a midwife for the village.
A school founded at the castle educated over 300 underprivileged children. Dr Sharp is also credited with launching the first-ever lifeboat at Bamburgh and setting up a coastguard system which saved hundreds of lives at sea.
The huge cooking or basting pan and ladle in the Great Kitchen dates from this welfare state era and would have been used to serve up wholesome food to those in need.
Going back further into the castle’s history as an Anglo Saxon citadel, two cooking utensils display high quality craftwork significant for the status of Bamburgh Castle's site.
This iron chain dates between 1300 and 1500 when cauldrons would be suspended on a hook with substantial chain over a fire. Using a quantity of iron and involving considerable time and skill in manufacture, a chain was considered a prestigious item made by a smith in Anglo Saxon times. Most smiths at this time were itinerant workers travelling between sites for work, or would have been more general craftspeople who may not have developed the high skill needed to make a chain. Bamburgh attracted prestigious workers who would have been part of the estate.