near Helmsley, North Yorkshire, England
Helmsley Castle is situated in the market town of Helmsley on the outskirts of the North Yorkshire Moors.
The medieval ruins of Helmsley Castle are surrounded by banks and huge double ditch cut from solid rock.
The site is surrounded by a low curtain wall with circular towers, a tall D shaped tower on the eastern side of the inner bailey; thought to have been a keep, and two barbican entrances.
The castle is open daily between March and October from 10am and Thursday to Sunday from November to February.
Visitors to the castle can take an audio tour from the visitors centre or visit the mansion range which has a hands on exhibition. On display are also a wide range of exhibits and finds from the Civil War from tableware to canon balls, and an exhibition showing the different aspects of life within the castle from domestic, social and military positions.
The first castle on the site was around 1120 and was constructed of wood and in 1186 Robert de Roos, a relative of the original owner started work on converting the castle into a stone building.
The castle remained in the de Roos family until 1478 and between them the family members were responsible for building the castle’s, towers, gateways, chapel and defenses. They were also responsible for building a dividing wall between the north and the south of the site. In the southern part they built a new hall and the east tower in an area used as exclusively for the family; now granted the title ‘Lords of Helmsley’, and the northern half with the old hall was used by the castle’s stewards and officials.
In 1478 the castle was sold to Richard, Duke of Gloucester; later Richard III, although he preferred to stay at Middleham Castle. After his death the castle was given back to the de Roos family and it was under Edward de Roos that the old hall on the north side was converted into a Tudor mansion and the chapel into a kitchen, linking the two by a covered walkway. He demolished the new hall and converted the south barbican to comfortable living quarters.
The castle suffered damage during the Civil War and was slighted with much of the eastern tower, its walls and gates being destroyed. The castle then passed through more hands including those of the Lord Mayor of London, Charles Duncombe in 1678, and after being handed down again though his family was left uninhabited to decay. The castle is now under the care of English Heritage.
Other Castles in the Area
Knaresborough Castle, North Yorkshire
Pickering Castle, North Yorkshire