BRIDES can now blush beneath the ramparts of a piece of North East history.
For grade II-listed Lambton Castle, near Burnmoor, is to become an upmarket wedding venue.
Grade I listed Biddick Hall, within the grounds, is also available for couples to hire for their magical day.
The 1,400-acre County Durham private estate, the ancestral seat of the Lambton family, is set to expand services for other events, such as classical concerts and parties, to raise money towards its upkeep.
It is a far cry from when it was a popular safari park.
Lambton Lion Park opened in 1972, although there were problems with animals escaping.
It closed in the early 1980s, a special Bring Back Lambton Lion Park page has been set up on social networking website Facebook.
“At the moment we have no plans to reintroduce lions to the Lambton estate,” said Bob Duff, events manager at Lambton Castle. “But who knows what could happen in the future?
“However, even without the lions, Lambton Castle is a very special place with a colourful and unique history.
“It’s also one of the most stunning 19th century castles in County Durham, with lovely grounds and wonderful interior rooms which lend themselves to any occasion from weddings to business conferences.
“We’re now excited to be entering a new phase in the castle’s history, and we’re delighted to be throwing open our doors to guests who appreciate art, music, culture and excellent cuisine in a beautiful and unique setting.”
Mr Duff said the idea to make the castle and grounds available for wider use came from Edward Lambton, the 7th Earl of Durham.
The family has an estate in Northumberland and a home in Tuscany, Italy.
Lord Durham inherited the Lambton estate after the death of his dad, a former Conservative MP, in 2006.
The current Lord, 49, got married for the third time earlier this year. His bride was 29-year-old ex-model Marina Hanbury.
They reportedly met when she shared a flat with his son Fred, Viscount Lambton.