Hylton Castle (pronounced /ˈhɪltn/ hil-tn) is a ruined stone castle in the North Hylton area of Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, England. Originally built from wood by the Hilton (later Hylton) family shortly after the Norman Conquest in 1066, it was later rebuilt in stone in the late 14th to early 15th century. The castle underwent major changes to its interior and exterior in the 18th century and it remained the principal seat of the Hylton family until the death of the last “baron” in 1746. It was then Gothicised but neglected until 1812, when it was revitalised by a new owner. Standing empty again until the 1840s, it was briefly used as a school until it was purchased again in 1862.
When the 18th and last “Baron Hylton ” died without male heirs in 1746, the castle passed to his nephew, Sir Richard Musgrave, Bt, who took the name of Hylton. It was sold by a private bill (23 Geo. II c.21) in 1749 to Lady Bowes, the widow of Sir George Bowes of Streatlam and Gibside in County Durham. No record of her, or any of her family, ever taking up residence exists and the castle later passed to her grandson, John Bowes-Lyon, 10th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne.
After a long period of remaining empty, the castle slowly began to decay, until in 1812, when Simon Temple, a local businessman, leased the castle from the Strathmores and made it habitable. However, his failed business ventures prevented him from completing his work, and in 1819 the castle was lived in by a Mr. Thomas Wade.
By 1834, the castle was unoccupied again. In 1840, an advert was placed in the Newcastle Courant by Revd. John Wood for “Hylton Castle Boarding School” and the 1841 census shows Wood, his family, pupils and staff as living on the estate. The school does not seem to have existed for long as Howitt commented in 1842, that it was “a scene of great desolation … the windows for the most part, all along the front, are boarded up … the whole of this large old house is now empty … and in the most desolate state”. However, he does go on to say the kitchen was occupied a poor family. By 1844, the chapel was used as a carpenter’s workshop, and according to the Durham Chronicle in January 1856, the castle set on fire while in the occupation of a farmer, Mr. Maclaren.
In 1862, the castle was put up for sale by the Strathmores and purchased by William Briggs, a local timber merchant and ship builder.[