Richmond, North Yorkshire, England
Richmond Castle is set on a wooded slope overlooking the River Swale, in the market town of Richmond, in the north of England.
The castle is reputed to be one of the finest examples of a Norman building in England, with the most well preserved part being the 12th century honey colored sandstone keep. The keep rises to over 100 feet high with walls 11 feet thick and was built on top of the original gatehouse; the original archway at the base of the keep still being visible.
The site is surrounded by a curtain wall, with the ruins of its three towers, within one of the towers is the chapel of St Nicholas with a barrel vaulted ceilings. The other structures still standing within the castle site are ‘Scolland’s Hall and the ‘Gold Hole Tower’ where the castle’s latrines were housed.
The castle is open daily between 10am and 6pm from April until September and Thursday to Monday from 10am until 4pm between October and March.
Climb to the top of the keep for magnificent views over the town and beyond, or take one of the guided tours. During the tours a member of the castle’s staff tell of where King Arthur slept, as well as the history of the castle from the Norman time’s right up until the First World War. Tours are included in the price of entry but visitors must book a tour at least three weeks in advance.
The castle also has interactive displays and virtual reality guides, the ‘Cockpit Garden’, family books and activities and an exhibition centre with artifacts excavated from the site.
The land on which the castle is built was given to Alain Le Roux de Ponthievre of Brittany by William the Conqueror. He began construction of Richmond Castle which became part of one of the largest Norman estates in England.
The castle was taken on a number of occasions and it wasn’t until the end of the 12th century that a keep was added by Duke Conan the Little and finished by Henry II, who also strengthened the castle with towers and a barbican.
The castle was also added to and improved by Henry III and Edward I which included an ‘air lock’ between the barbican and main gate acting as a holding area for vehicles and visitors to be searched before entering the interior of the castle walls. An enclosure known as the ‘Cockpit’ was used as a garden and was overlooked from the castle’s balcony.
By the end of the 14th century the castle was no longer in use and was left until the early 19th century when repairs were undertaken on the keep. The castle was next used during the First World War by the conscientious objectors of the Non Combatant Corps and also used as a prison for those who refused to follow orders.
Today the castle is in the care of English Heritage.
The ruins of Richmond Castle were painted by Turner.
Other Castles in the Area
Barnard Castle, Co. Durham
Bolton Castle, North Yorkshire
Bowes Castle, Co. Durham
Middleham Castle, North Yorkshire
Raby Castle, Co. Durham