A romantic pre-wedding session at a castle ruin in Sunderland with Jen & Joe

I love exploring new locations for pre-wedding and wedding photography, so I jumped at the chance to photograph Jen and Joe at Hylton Castle in Sunderland. It's a place I hadn't ever heard of, so I did a little bit of research before I visited.

Hylton Castle was built by Sir William Hylton around the year 1400. The rich Hylton family had estates in Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland. By the 13th century had assumed the title of a barony within the Bishopric of Durham.

The impressive gatehouse tower, the only part of the castle still standing, was almost certainly intended to be the dominant element of the new building. Other buildings were situated beyond the tower to the east, possibly arranged around a courtyard. 

The Hyltons maintained their rank and wealth until the English Civil War. Despite a reduction in their means, the family remained prosperous enough to refurbish the interior and add wings to the north and south side of the gatehouse in the first half of the 18th century. 

The last Hylton died in 1746 and shortly afterwards the estate was sold. A century later it was bought by a local man, William Briggs, who demolished the 18th century wings, added larger windows and rebuilt the interior. Deterioration in the 20th century led to only the exterior walls being saved.

The ruined St Catherine’s Chapel, founded about 1157, stands nearby in the grounds.

Hylton Castle is a compact site with a range of ruins and woodland nearby, so it was perfect for an hour's engagement photography, especially in the autumn when the sun was low in the sky and the leaves were golden brown.

Jen and Joe were great sports and I can't wait to photograph their wedding at Wallsend Hall next April - which is a new wedding venue for me too!

For more couples sessions, and some real weddings, check out my Durham weddings page.