near Middleham, North Yorkshire, England
Middleham Castle is situated 2 miles south of Leyburn, near the edge of the Yorkshire Dales in Wensleydale.
Although the castle is in ruins most of the large walls are still intact and consists of a two storey Norman keep with turrets at each corner and the midway points and the remains of residential buildings surrounded by a curtain wall.
The entrance to the keep is via a staircase to the first floor. There is a further spiral staircase up to the top of the south west tower which has views over the town and countryside beyond.
Only the foundations of the original eastern gatehouse and curtain wall are still visible, but the rest of the wall is still intact. Despite some restoration the lower parts of the keep, windows, doorways and battlements are badly damaged and eroded.
The castle is open to the public daily between March and September 10am to 6pm and between October and March until 4pm Saturday to Wednesday.
There is an exhibition about the castle’s important occupants and includes a copy of the ‘Middleham Jewel’; a large 15th century sapphire pendent, as well as family friendly activities and a shop selling souvenirs and snacks.
The castle was constructed on the site of an earlier motte and bailey castle in the late 1100’s by Robert Fitzrandolph, and consisted on a three storey keep with chapel, living quarters and bailey.
During the 13th century a 250 foot curtain wall was built around the castle and during the 14th and 15th centuries, stables, stores and a garrison were also built within the castle walls. It was also during the 15th century that some of the most powerful Lords in England, including Warwick, Salisbury, the Duke of Gloucester and King Richard III all lived at Middleham Castle; with it being the most favorite of all the Kings castles. ‘The Princes Tower’, a round tower at the south west of the curtain wall is where Price Edward was said to have been born and where he died.
The castle came into the hands of Henry VII after King Richard’s death in 1485 was abandoned and fell into ruins. In 1604 the castle was granted to Sir Henry Linley who renovated and lived until his death in 1610.
During the Civil War the castle was used as a prison, but in 1646 the parliamentarians ordered the wall of the east range and other parts of the castle to be destroyed and again it was left abandoned. The castle changed hands for the last time in 1925 when English Heritage acquired it from Lord Masham.
Other Castles in the Area
Bolton Castle, North Yorkshire
Bowes Castle, Co. Durham
Richmond Castle, North Yorkshire