VISIT  MIDDLEHAM  CASTLE  WITH ENGLISH  HERITAGE  MEMBERSHIP

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TICKETS & PRICES

Adults: £7.60
Children 5-17 Years: £4.60 
Families (2 adults, up to 3 Children): £19.80 
Families (1 adult, up to 3 Children): £12.20

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Visiting Middleham Castle

Middleham Castle in Middleham, North Yorkshire, is a fine example of a Norman Keep. The ruins we see today are a mid-12th-century to 14th construction that moved northwest of an earlier 11th-century wood and earthwork fort. Visitors may visit the site for a fee and climb the keep to enjoy the view.

Parking

There’s no dedicated parking for the castle ruins, but visitors will find free and paid parking near Middleham town. There’s also a designated drop-off point for those who wish to use other means of transport. The castle is centrally located and accessible by train or bus. Visitors should take note that the site doesn’t provide disabled parking or toilet facilities.

 

Price

English Heritage members can enjoy free access to the Middleham Castle ruins at any time, while those who donate to the English heritage will enjoy discounts on entry fees to the site. The prices for September 2021 are:

  • Adults: £7.60 without donation, £6.90 with donation
  • Children 5-17 Years: £4.60 without donation, £4.10 with donation
  • Families (Two adults and up to Three Children): £19.80 without donation, £17.90 with donation
  • Families (One adult and up to Three Children): £12.20 without donation, £11.00 with donation

 

Opening

The castle opening times are updated on the English Heritage Site and typically follow opening times of Monday to Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. English heritage encourages visitors to book admission before visiting the site for lower fees. 

Location and Access

Visitors may access the Middleham Castle site in the town Middleham, two miles (3.21 km) south of Leyburn off the A6108 at:

Castle Hill

Middleham

Leyburn

North Yorkshire

DL8 4QR.

 

Middleham town lies near Wensleydale on the eastern border of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, roughly 2 miles (3.21 km) south of Leyburn. Though it lies in ruins, the castle remains remarkably intact, withstanding walls and an imposing keep still standing near its full height. Visitors may climb the keep to take advantage of the views of the countryside or explore the grounds.

The site provides smooth and level access for wheelchairs on the ground level, including the castle keep. However, those with challenged mobility may not navigate the steep spiral staircase to the top of the keep. 

English Heritage maintains the site and provides grassed play areas for the children and exhibition space to learn more about the notable castle occupants. The exhibit also contains a replica of the famous Middleham Jewel found near the site in 1985.

Know Before You Go

  • Dogs are welcome if owners keep them firmly on the leash at all times.
  • English Heritage does not permit ball sports, kites, or drones flying on their heritage sites.
  • There are no toilet or food catering shops on the castle site, but visitors may use the picnic facilities and bring their food.
  • The ground floors are wheelchair friendly, but English Heritage cautions visitors when climbing the steep stairway to the upper levels of the castle keep.
  • There’s ample space around the castle for children to play and explore the castle.
  • Heritage provides an exhibition of notable castle occupants and the site's history.

Places To Stay Nearby

Premier Inn Catterick Garrison Hotel

The Premier Inn Catterick Garrison Hotel is centrally located between the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors and the bustling town of Northallerton. Situated less than 20 minutes drive from Middleham Castle, the Inn offers competitively priced accommodation to explore the surrounding area's history. 

The hotel offers wifi and ensuite showers with the option of breakfast. Rooms start at £48.50 ($67) to £73 ($100), depending on your preferred package.

Book

The Priory Hotel Middleham 

The Priory Hotel stands opposite the Middleham Castle ruins and offers five bedrooms and the self-catering Coach House for eight guests. The historic building offers luxury accommodation in a historic building with all the latest amenities such as wifi and flat-screen TVs. The rates of the Priory rooms range from £135.00 ($186) to £165.00 ($227), including breakfast, depending on the time of year.

Book

The Dantes Arms Hotel

The Dantes Arms is a 16th-century building only a two-minute stroll from the Middleham Castle site. The neatly decorated rooms offer free wifi and TV with ensuite bathrooms with optional breakfasts and pub-style fare made with fresh local ingredients. 

The hotel offers five rooms, two of which view the local thoroughbreds leaving for the gallops. The hotel is pet-friendly for an additional cost of £5 per night. Single rooms start at around £75 ($103) to £130 ($180) for a family room. 

Book

History of Middleham Castle 

Middleham Castle was home to some of the most powerful men of the 1500s, including the Earls of Salisbury and Warwick and Richard Duke of Gloucester, the future King Richard III. The castle was the birthplace of Prince Edward of Middleham, the Prince of Wales, who died there at only ten years old.  

Time Line


-Pre 1000 AD

Archaeologists uncovered the remnants of a Roman bathhouse roughly 10 miles (16.09 km) southeast of Middleham, suggesting Roman settlement in the area.

-1069-(First Fort)

Historians suggest that the first fortification near the Middleham Castle site occupied an area southwest of the present castle ruins. Alan the Red took control of the strategic site that guarded an important crossing across the Pennines in Middleham. He built an earth and timber motte and bailey fortification on the narrow raised area between Ure and Cover rivers.

-1086-(Moved to Current Site)

Alan the Red granted Middleham to his brother Ribald Rufus somewhere around this time, whose descendants formed the FitzRanulph dynasty.

The cramped, narrow confines of the first bailey prompted the family to move the fortification site northwest to a larger and lower area of ground that the ruins occupy today. Historians attribute the first stone built to Robert FitzRanulph.

-1270

FitzRanulph died without an heir, and the castle passed through marriage to the powerful Neville clan through FitzRanulph's daughter Mary's union with  Robert de Neville.

-1346

The Neville clan rose in power, closely connected with the crown. After supporting Edward III in his campaigns, The second Lord Neville and his son assumed the role of Warden of the March and took control of the border between England and Scotland. 

-The Late 1300s (Remodelling)

The fourth Earl Neville remodelled the residences of the domestic buildings and increased the height of the curtain walls to two stories as a show of power. 

-1455-(Yorkist Stronghold)

The War of the Roses began, with Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, firmly supporting the Yorkist cause. The castle was his primary residence which he used extensively to recruit allies against Henry VI. 

After his capture, execution at the Battle of Wakefield, his son inherited his estate and title. He, too, supported the Yorkists and entertained Edward IV at the castle.

-1461

After Richard Duke of York's defeat and death in battle, his 13-year-old son Richard Duke of Gloucester and future King Richard III of England lived in Middleham castle. Richard was under the care of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, dubbed the 'King Maker from 1465-1468.

-1464-(Execution)

King Edward ordered Several defeated Lancastrians executed at Middleham Castle.

-1469-(Imprisoned King)

The relations between Warwick and the King deteriorate, and he briefly imprisons Edward IV in Middleham Castle. 

-1471-(Warwick Dies)

Warwick switches sides to the Lancastrian cause and dies in the Battle of Barnet. Following the death of Warwick, Edward reclaimed the throne, and his brother Richard married Anne Neville Warwick's younger daughter and made Middleham his home. 

-1476-(Royal Birth)

Edward was born to Richard and Anne and later died at the castle in 1484 after a sudden illness. Many at the time believed this divine retribution for Richard's involvement in the disappearance of the sons of Edward IV, Edward V of England, and Richard, Duke of York.

-1485

Richard died at the Battle of Bosworth Field, and Henry VII seized the castle and estates, which remained under crown control until James I sold the castle.

-1538

A Crown survey reported the castle in a state of decay, with the battlements and roofs in poor condition.

-1604

James I sold the castle to Sir Henry Lindley, and the castle passed in marriage to the Loftus family.

-1647 

The English Civil war erupted, and Parliament ordered the castle destroyed, but there is no record of them acting out the slighting.  

-The 1650s

Parliament garrisoned the castle, prompting Loftus to seek compensation for fortifications costing £2000.

-1655

The parliament garrisoned the castle in the face of Royalist threats with 30 men, but the Royalist forces did not attack the castle. 

-1660

The Wood family bought the castle and likely leased it out for agricultural or industrial use.

The castle remained in the Wood family till in a ruinous state in the 19th century.

-1926

The Office of Works took guardianship of the castle and later gifted the monument to the state in -1930.

-1984-Today

English Heritage took over the care of Middleham Castle, which is now a Grade I listed monument. Visitors may access the castle ruin site at a fee to English Heritage which goes towards the upkeep of the historical monument.

Middleham Castle Occupants

  • 1069: Alan the Red built and occupied the first motte and bailey structure southwest from the Middleham Castle site.
  • 1086: Ribald Rufus moved the fort site to the present castle site from Wiliams Hill.
  • 1270: FitzRanulfs' daughter Mary, married Robert Neville and occupied the castle.
  • 1346: The second Earl of Neville and his son assume the role of Warden of the Marches and occupy the castle. 
  • The late 1300s: Fourth Earl Neville occupied the castle and conducted extensive renovations.
  • 1455: Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, occupied the castle and used it as a Yorkist stronghold.
  • 1465-1468: Richard duke of Gloucester and future king, lives with Warwick and his family at the castle
  • 1469: Warwick imprisoned Edward IV in the castle for a brief spell.
  • 1471: The future Richard III married Warwick's youngest daughter and made Middleham castle his home.
  • 1484: Richard briefly visits the castle a month after the death of his son.

Images of Middleham Castle

Middleham Castle Middleham Castle Middleham Castle Middleham Castle Middleham Castle
Middleham Castle Middleham Castle Middleham Castle Middleham Castle

Images Supplied and licensed from Shutterstock Standard Licence Package

Middleham Castle Facts

  • Tom Seaton, an experienced treasure hunter, found the Middleton jewel on a bridle path near the Middleton castle in 1985. The gold and sapphire jewel's value lay undiscovered for 500 years and which the Yorkshire Museum bought for £2.5 million. 
  • A panel on the Middleham jewel slid away to expose small pieces of silk embroidered with gold thread, suggesting the relic may have had religious significance. 
  • Middleham Castle Keep is unusual because it is not as high as the usual stone keeps of the period.
  • Datestones with the letter M’ in the latrine towers refer to the repairs conducted by the 2nd Lord Masham's repairs to the site in1903.
  • Historians dated the castle by the carved stone capitals in the chapel placed in the northeast corner of the keep, which had a waterleaf decoration used in other structures in Yorkshire in the later 12th century.

Middleham Castle Q&A

What Kind of Castle Was Middleham Castle?

Middleham Castle is a fine example of a 12th-century tower keep with a later 14th-century concentric castle expansion in the late middle ages. The keep is a rare example of a hall keep and forms a rectangular shape measuring 32 m (104.9 ft) by 24 m (78.7 ft) with ashlar walls up to 3.7 m wide (12.1 ft) 

Although the castle presented a strongly fortified presence, the castle functioned more as a fortified residence than a military stronghold. The castle was home to the powerful Neville family, whose history intertwines with the English Royal family. 

What Remains of Middleham Castle?

Despite the ruined state, the centre keep still stands to its original height and affords visitors a glimpse at the surrounding countryside. The actual external staircase is gone, and the steps inside the keep are modern. 

The ruins include the 13th-century curtain wall and the augmented rages to the northwest and south. Although the inner walls of the ranges were plundered, one may still view the traces of the rooms in the inner court. There are also traces of the later built oven and horse mill on the castle grounds.  

How Old Is Middleham Castle?

The original fort that occupied the Middleham Castle area was a wood and earthwork fort built on Williams hill in 1064. Robert FitzRanulph, 3rd Lord of Middleham and Spennithorne, made the first stone tower or keep in 1190. 

Much of the later castle was built during the 14th-century, including the curtain wall, domestic buildings, and the ditched enclosure surrounding the castle. 

Location of Middleham Castle

Middleham Castle ruins stand in the town of Middleham in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire. The impressive ruins contain the 12th century Norman keep, which remains standing almost to its full height. Historians believe that Alan the Red, cousin to William the Conqueror built The first motte and bailey fortress on what people know today as Williams hill. 

The earth and timber fort occupied a natural rise between the rivers Ure and Cover with earth banks for defence and a small enclosed bailey. Around 1090 AD, Ralph Fitz Ranulf decided to move the site of defence northwest to a larger piece of land slightly lower than the initial build. 

Ranulf constructed a sizable rectangular keep which forms the centre of the ruins visitors see today, with its great hall and chambers. Once upon a time, access to these areas was via an exposed external stair that remained under guard should any enemy attempt to enter the keep proper. 

Other Places To Visit Near Middleham Castle

Holy Trinity Church Coverham

The Holy Trinity Church stands near Coverham Abbey and boasts a 13th-century knave and a carved Anglo Saxon stone as a lintel above the main door. Historians suggest that the church may have overlapped an earlier site of local worship. The church underwent restoration twice over the centuries, and much of its unusual tiling and colourful windows are Victorian additions. 

Bolton Castle 

Bolton Castle offers a rare glimpse into the medieval past. Unusual for monuments of this time, there remains evidence of the original owner Richard the first Baron Scrope of Bolton, and the architect John Llywelyn. The 1300s square keep had four towers at each corner enclosing an inner bailey.

Mary Queen of Scots spent six months imprisoned in the castle, now owned by the 8th Baron of Bolton. offered out for private functions and paid tourist visits. The site also offers falconry displays and historically related activities to the public.  

Jervaulx Abbey

Jervaulx Abbey is a ruined Cistercian monastery set in the Valley of Ure east of the Yorkshire Dales. Built in 1156, the ruins boast over 180 different species of wildflowers in their abbey walls. The Abbey was laid waste during the Dissolution of churches by Henry the VIII, but numerous columns and parts of the Abbey still remain. 

The Burdon family privately owns the ruins and is open to visitors for an 'honesty fee’ at the visitor's choosing. The owners also offer the romantic Abbey as a wedding facility and charity events where its stark beauty forms an ideal backdrop.  

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