For the past seventeen and a half years, I have called Morpeth my home town. It’s a town that dates back to the 12th century, so if you haven’t heard of it, shame on you. We’re a small town, population around fourteen thousand about 15 miles from Newcastle (a half hour bus ride or 20 minutes on the train from Central Station). Morpeth isn’t perfect, the nightlife isn’t quite what it used to be and it is prone to flooding but there are many fantastic things about Morpeth.
- It’s a beautiful place to live
Morpeth is built on the river Wansbeck and this means there’s some beautiful natural scenery, not to mention the wildlife. Herons are a frequent sight and there’s nothing more relaxing than a walk along the river. We even have stepping stones, which, if you’re really daring, you can run across as fast as you can, knowing that the river isn’t that deep so all you’ll get is a wet leg if you fall in. We have beautiful parks as well, such as Carlisle Park, which includes rowing boat hire and a paddling pool for the youngsters. As for the flood risk, the Environment Agency has spent loads on fixing that, so you should be safe if you decide to pop along.
- We have a castle and other old buildings
Morpeth has its own castle, which I think is pretty cool. It’s on the top of a hill so if you don’t mind a short trek (or you can access it by car but there’s no parking) you can go and have a look at it and you can even stay there if you really want. There’s an old court house which has been converted into a hotel (four stars as well) which you can also stay in to absorb some of the history. There’s also an abandoned asylum, which you can sort of go in if you don’t mind the risk of being chased out by security, which may or may not have happened to me… My advice would be to view it from a distance.
- There’s ghosts (apparently)
I will admit, I’ve never seen any ghosts in Morpeth but staff at Chambers Bar in Morpeth are convinced that the place is haunted. A barmaid refused to change a barrel after seeing a ghostly figure in the cellar and a paranormal expert was called in. He said it was one of the most haunted sites he’d ever seen; the pub may date back to the 13th century, so it’s little wonder that it’s full of arguing ghosts and figures running through the walls. If you come to Morpeth you can check it out but you may have to be prepared for a spooky surprise.
- You’ll be safe if there’s a nuclear disaster
This one probably isn’t very likely, but nobody will judge you if you are the type of nuclear apocalypse fearing kook who has a plan in case of a zombie invasion (seriously, everyone in Morpeth is lovely so there’s no need to worry). But, in the event of a nuclear apocalypse there is a bunker underneath the former council buildings in Loansdean, so if whilst visiting Morpeth there was a nuclear explosion, you’d be safe.
- The local history
Every April, Morpeth’s rich history is celebrated in the Morpeth Gathering, an event which joins the whole town together with competitions, a parade and events such as the battle re-enactment in the park. It’s a great event that gets everyone of all generations out together to celebrate how great Morpeth is. There’s many local businesses that have been around for years; Rutherford & Co, a family business which has been run by the Rutherford family for over 100 years; it even has a crest with Latin on it, Smails, a hardware store, and J&J S. Mackay are the oldest shops that spring to mind. Our town hall was built in 1869 and the clock tower has been around since the 1700s. The famous suffragette Emily Wilding Davison is buried in Morpeth, at St Mary’s Church, and to mark the 100th anniversary of her death last year there were suffragette themed events . There will be something Emily themed though, so I wouldn’t worry too much. Plus, Admiral Collingwood, Admiral Nelson’s second in command, lived in Morpeth and you can sometimes go in his house to have a snoop around. We also boast England’s only bagpipe museum, which you’ll find in the Morpeth Chantry; I visited it in first school as part of a project.
So that’s the five reasons I think you should visit Morpeth. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good. I’ve loved living here all my life, and it’s hard to imagine moving away. We even have free parking (as long as you buy a parking disc for £1, or you can borrow mine), so there’s no excuse not to visit us.