Middleham Castle

Middleham Castle

Location: North Yorkshire       Map

Constructed: 1190 by Robert Fitzrandolph 3rd Lord of Middleham and Spennithorne
Tel. 01 969 623 899
Apr- Sept 10am- 6pm daily
Oct- Mar 10am- 4pm Mon- Wed, Sat, Sun
Closed: 1 Jan, 24- 26 Dec


Middleham Castle is a medieval fortress situated in North Yorkshire in United Kingdom. Construction of Middleham Castle began in 1190 by the orders of Robert Fitzrandolph 3rd Lord of Middleham and Spennithorne. t was built near the site of an old castle motte. In 1270, the castle passes into the hands of the Neville family, whose most important figure is Richard Neville, the "king maker", a prominent figure in the War of the Two Roses.



The castle was built from 1190 by Robert Fitzrandolph, 3rd Lord of Middleham and Spennithorne on the site of an earlier motte. In 1270 it came into the hands of the Neville family, the best known of whom was Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, known as a kingmaker in the Wars of the Roses. After the death of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York at the Battle of Wakefield in December 1460, his younger sons, George and Richard, took over the Earldom of Warwick and both lived at Middleham Castle with the Neville family. Her brother Edward was imprisoned at Middleham Castle for some time after being captured by Neville in 1469. After Neville's death at the Battle of Barnet in 1471 and Edward's return to the English throne, his brother Richard married Anne Neville, Richard Neville's younger daughter, and made Middleham Castle his family home. Their son Edward was also born at Middleham Castle and later died there as well.

Richard succeeded Edward as Richard III. to the throne of England, but spent little time at Middleham Castle during his reign, which lasted only two years. After Richard's death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, the castle remained in royal hands until the reign of James I, when it was sold. During the 17th century it was uninhabited and fell into disrepair. A garrison was stationed there during the English Civil War, but there were no acts of war. Today the ruined castle is managed by English Heritage, who have listed it as a Grade I historic building.



The castle is a compact, solid structure and, although now in ruins, most of the walls are intact. The castle consists of a massive Norman keep with a rectangular plan surrounded by a later-built curtain wall. Extensive palace-like living quarters were later added to it.

The keep is similar to other large, square keeps, but only had two floors. It is divided on both floors with an inner wall, and it is equipped with turrets on each corner and in the middle of each wall. The ground floor houses two large, originally vaulted sleeping chambers and upstairs there are two knights' halls with high windows. The entrance is - as usual - reached via an external staircase to the upper floor, and a later added chapel guards this entrance. A repaired spiral staircase leads up to the turret at the southeast corner, from where one can enjoy views over the surrounding city and country, e.g. B. also on the site of the old motte in the southwest.

The 13th-century curtain wall concentrically surrounds the keep, making the castle a compact and effectively defensible structure, albeit built for comfort rather than military purposes. In the 15th century the Nevilles had an impressive array of halls and outbuildings built along the curtain wall, making the castle a truly magnificent residence in which nobles of their class could live comfortably. Bridges at upper floor level connected these new buildings to the keep, and the ceiling of the Great Hall was also raised, either to accommodate clerestory or to provide space for another bedroom.

The castle is entered through a tower on the north-east corner, although this is a 15th-century remodeling. Only the foundations remain of the original gatehouse, extending east into the now-vanished outer courtyard. With the exception of this eastern castle wall, however, the ring of walls is fairly complete, although the walls of the residential buildings no longer exist. Some restoration work has been carried out on the castle in modern times, but the lower facades of the keep are still in rather poor condition. Windows and doors have crumbled, floors have collapsed and none of the battlements survive. The castle is still an impressive ruin and one can still sense its former strength and grandeur.