Middleham Castle

Middleham Castle, North Yorkshire


Castle Hill, Middleham





Middelham Castle is forever known as King Richard III's castle.

The castle is situated in the middle of the small town of the same name, surrounded by cottages and a farm towards the rear of the castle where the best photo's of the castle can be taken. The castle today is in a very ruinous state but there is still plenty to explore. A must for anyone interested in the Wars of the Roses and King Richard III.

~ History ~

1050's ~ Gilpatrick holds the lands of Medelai (Middleham) to King Edward the Confessor.

1070's ~ William the Conquror grants thanks lands to Alan Rufus, 'the Red', his second cousin and one of his chief supporters.

1086 ~ Alan builds a timber ringwork castle surrounded by deep ditches. A bailey is later added to the castle.

1170's ~ On a fresh site a stone keep is erected, designed and built by master mason Richard Wolveston, who serves Hugh du Puiset, Bishop of Durham.

1258 ~ Mary fitz Ranulph, ‘Lady of Middleham’, inherites the castle.

1260 ~ Mary marries Robert Neville, and so the castle passes into the Neville family, one of the most powerful families in England.

1271 ~ Robert and Mary’s son, Ranulph, 3rd Baron Neville, inherite Middleham, along with the nearby estates of Sheriff Hutton, Brancepeth and Raby. Ranulph builds the curtain wall that surrounds the keep.

1388 ~  Ralph, 1st Earl of Westmorland, inherits the castle. He grants a weekly market and an annual fair to the town of Middleham.

1397 ~ Extensive work on the castle begins. This includes much improved   accommodatio and curtain wall raised to create first-floor ranges on at least three sides, its towers are heightened and the tower at the north-east corner is converted to become the castle’s main gatehouse.

1410 ~ King Henry IV stays at the castle while on progress in the north.


1455 ~ The Wars of the Roses between the rival houses and cousins Lancaster and York begins.Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick is instrumental in Yorkist Edward, Earl of March, taking the throne from Lancastrian Henry VI  six years later,  earning him the title ‘the Kingmaker’.

1461 ~ King Edward IV stays with Warwick at Middleham for a few days. The Kings youngest brother, Richard is made Duke of Gloucester.

1464 ~ Several defeated Lancastrians are executed at the castle.

1465 ~ At the tender age of 13 Richard enters Warwick's household at Middelham Castle, remaining there for the next three years.

1469 ~ Warwick has risen in rebellion against King Edward, switching sides from York to Lancater, due to being dissatisfied with royal policy. Edward is captured and briefly held at Middleham Castle. He later flees to France.

1471 ~ King Edward returns to England to put down Warwick’s rebellion. The campaign culminates in the Battle of Barnet, at which Edward defeats the Lancastrians and Warwick is killed.

Following Warwick’s death, Richard acquires the Neville lands in the north, including Middleham. His position is enhanced further through his marriage to Anne Neville, Warwick’s younger daughter, and his appointment as president of the Council of the North. Their son, Edward, is later born at Middleham. 

1483 ~ Richard becames Protector of the Realm upon Edward IV’s death. Later the same year he is crowned King Richard III, usurping his 12-year-old nephew, Edward V.

1484 ~ King Richard III continued to spend time at Middleham, staying there for several days after his son, Edward, dies at the castle.

1485 ~ King Richard III is defeated by Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth. Upon Henry’s accession to the throne Middleham becomes the possession of the Crown.

1531 ~ Crown money is spent on the castle’s upkeep, when a new key and lock are provided for the gatehouse. The auditor’s room on the first floor next to the gatehouse is repaired and glazed, and additional service buildings are inserted along the south and west ranges.

1538 ~ The castle is recorded as being in a sorry state. A Crown survey reports that the battlements, roofs and chimneys are in a poor condition, the gatehouse without a portcullis, the chapel and south curtain wall are covered in ivy, and the brewhouse had decayed. Buildings in the outer bailey are also in decay.

1604 ~ King James I sells Middleham Castle to Sir Henry Lindley.

1643 ~ The Lindely's own the castle until is passes by marriage to the Loftus family.

1647 ~ Parliament order the destruction of the castle to prevent it being taken by the Royalists, but this order is not carried out.

1650's ~ Middleham is garrisoned for Parliament.

1655 ~ Colonel Robert Lilburne mans the castle with 30 men in response to a Royalist threat. In the same year, Royalist prisoners are also held at the castle.

1660 ~ After the restoration of Charles II, Middleham is bought by the Wood family of Littleton in Middlesex. The castle is leased out for farming use.

1779 ~ during the American Wars of Independence, the Office of the Commissioners of Sick and Wounded Seamen ask Thomas Wood if the castle was fit to hold French prisoners of war.

1859 ~ Colonel Thomas Wood has a wall built around the castle to prevent further decay. At the same time, some of the interior is cleared of debris. The castle continues to decay into further ruin.