Middleham Castle: An ancient edifice in northern England dating from the 11th century.

 This evening, I am focusing on Middleham Castle, located in Wensleydale, Yorkshire, England. This video clip was taken from atop the castle and places the building in context of the local landscape.

Location is about forty-five miles NW of the city of York.

Middleham Castle had its genesis after the Norman Conquest of England when, in 1069, land in the area was granted to Alan Rufus, a nephew of William the Conqueror. The first castle, a wooden motte-and-bailey structure- was built on a hill about 500 yards to the S.W. of the present castle, a site known as ‘William’s Hill’. The foundations of this castle are still visible.

First Castle on William's Hill

First Castle on William’s Hill

The historical chronology after construction of the first castle was a s follows:

  • By 1086 the first castle was in hands of Alan Rufus’s brother, Ribald.
  • First castle abandoned in 12th century when the new castle was built centred on a massive stone keep and a bailey. Construction started around AD 1170 under Robert Fitzrandolph during the reign of Henry II. The keep was noticeable for its 12 ft thick walls.
  • During the 15th century Middleham Castle was home to powerful lords of the day including Salisbury, Warwick and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard III. The latter is known to have held Middleham in close affection.
  • Richard was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 after which power shifted to the Tudor dynasty who took no interest in the castle and let it fall into disrepair.
  • In 1604 the castle was granted to Sir Henry Linley who undertook some repairs and lived there until his death in 1610. Until 1644 the castle was occupied first by Jane Linley ( daughter of Sir Henry)  and then formed the marital home of Jane Linley and her husband, Edward, 2nd Viscount Loftus.
  • During the English Civil Wars (1642-51) the castle was used as a prison.
  • In 1646 the castle was reduced to its present shell condition on orders of Parliament.
  • From 1662-1889 the castle was in hands of the Wood family.
  • From 1889 to 1925 it was in hands of the Cunliffe-Listers whereafter it was transferred to Government ownership where it currently resides, being managed by English Heritage. The castle is now a visitor attraction and open to the public.

The key aspects of the castle comprise: Gatehouse, Keep, Chapel, East Gatehouse, S.E. Tower, South Range, West Range, Lodgings and North Range.


South Wall of Middleham Castle

South Wall of Middleham Castle


S.E.Corner of castle keep and site of second floor chapel on right

S.E.Corner of castle keep and site of second floor chapel on right

 This video clip shows the keep and other aspects.


Eastern part of keep with Great Hall at first floor level.

Eastern part of keep with Great Hall at first floor level.


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