Helmsley Castle

Helmsley Castle


Location: Helmsley, North Yorkshire Map

Constructed: 1186- 1227

Entrance Fee: adult £4.70, children (5- 15 yrs) £2.90

Open: Apr- Sept 10am-6pm Mar & Oct 10am-5pm

Nov- Feb 10am-4pm Thu-Mon


Description of Helmsley Castle

Helmsley Castle is a medieval castle situated in Helmsley, North Yorkshire in United Kingdom.  First wooden fortress of Helmsley Castle was constructed in 1120 by Walter Espec, a prominent military leader during reign of Henry I. After his death Helmsley Castle passed to his sister Adelina who married Peter de Roos. Current stone military citadel was constructed in 1186- 1227 by the orders of Robert de Roos replacing earlier wooden structures. The fort remained in the possesion of the family until 1478 when Edmund de Roos sold it to Richard, Duke of Gloucester who became known as Richard III. English king was killed in the Battle of Bossworth (defeated by House of Lancasters on 22 August 1485) and Edmund got his castle back by new king Henry VII. Talking about making a good deal.



Around 1120, Walter l'Espec built a wooden castle. He died childless in 1154 and so the castle fell to his sister Adelina, who was married to Peter de Roos. In 1186, Robert de Ros, son of Everard de Roos, began converting the wooden castle into a stone one. He had two main towers, the round corner towers and the main entrance built on the south side of the castle. He died in 1227 and left the castle to his elder son William, who lived there from 1227 to 1258. The only change to the castle during this period was the construction of a chapel in the courtyard.

William's son, Robert, inherited the castle and was Lord of Helmsley from 1258 to 1285. He had the east tower built, as well as a new knight's hall and a new kitchen. He also had the castle strengthened. He also built a wall separating Helmsley Castle into a north and south part. The southern half with the new knight's hall and the east tower was for private use by the lord's family. The northern half with the old knight's hall was reserved for the steward and other servants. Robert died in 1316.

Helmsley Castle remained in the Ros family until 1478. Edmund de Ros then sold the castle to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who later became King Richard III. became. Richard didn't change anything about the castle; he resided at Middleham Castle instead. After the death of Richard III. at the Battle of Bosworth, King Henry VII returned Helmsley Castle to Edmund de Ros.

Edmund de Ros died childless in 1508 and the castle fell to his cousin, Sir George Manners of Etal. After his death in 1513 his son Thomas inherited the castle. He was made Earl of Rutland in 1525. On his death in 1543 his son Henry took his place, but it was his grandson Edward who rebuilt Helmsley Castle again. He had the old Great Hall converted into a Tudor mansion and the 13th-century chapel into a kitchen, connected to the old Great Hall by a covered gallery. He had the new knight's hall torn down. The southern barbican was converted into a comfortable dwelling for the time. A letter dated April 1578 describes the slow progress of the masonry work and states that timber was available for the mansion's attic gallery. After Edward's death in 1587 his brother, John Manners, inherited the castle, followed by John's son Roger and then Roger's younger brother Francis. On the death of Francis Manners in 1632 the castle passed to George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, who was married to Francis' daughter Katherine. In 1639 the castle was painted by Alexander Keirincx.

Helmsley Castle was besieged by Thomas Fairfax in 1644 during the English Civil War. Sir Jordan Crosland held it for the king for three months and then had to surrender. Parliament ordered the castle demolished so that it could no longer be used. Most of the walls, gates and part of the east tower were destroyed. But the mansion was spared. The castle was then owned by George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, who married Mary, daughter of Thomas Fairfax, in 1657.

On his death in 1687 the castle was sold to Charles Duncombe, a banker and politician who was knighted in 1699 and became Lord Mayor of London in 1708. His sister Mary's husband, Thomas Brown, inherited the castle after Charles Duncombe's death in 1711. Thomas subsequently changed his family name to 'Duncombe'. He commissioned John Vanbrugh to build a country house in Duncombe Park, towering over the castle. He left Helmsley Castle to decay. It is still owned by the Feversham family at Duncombe Park but is managed by English Heritage.