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  • Writer's pictureandybram69

Middleham Castle - Fit for a King

Middleham Castle is a ruined castle in Middleham in Wensleydale. It was built by Robert Fitzrandolph, 3rd Lord of Middleham and Spennithorne, commencing in 1190.

In 1270 the new Middleham Castle came into the hands of the Neville family, the most notable member of which was Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, known to history as the "Kingmaker", a leading figure in the Wars of the Roses.

The castle was the childhood home of King Richard III, although he spent very little of his reign there. Clearly Bailey isn't a supporter of Uncle Dicky !

After Richard's death at Bosworth in 1485 the castle was seized by Henry VII and remained in royal hands until the reign of James I, when it was sold.

The castle is a compact, massive structure, and though ruinous, most of the walls are intact. A simple rectangle in plan, the castle consists of a massive Norman keep surrounded by a later curtain wall, to which were then added extensive, palatial residential ranges. The keep is similar to other large square keeps, but had only two storeys,even so, at 105 feet (32 m) from north to south and 78 feet (24 m) west to east, is one of the largest in England.

In the 15th century the Nevilles constructed an impressive range of halls and outbuildings against the walls, turning the castle into a truly magnificent residence, fit for nobles of their stature. Bridges at first-floor level were built to connect these to the keep, and the ceiling above the great hall was also raised, either to provide a clerestory or space for another chamber.

Great to explore, there is still a lot of this impressive castle left standing, and the climb up the spiral steps to the roof gives amazing views of Wensleydale.

Map reference -

Now maintained by English Heritage - details of membership and other castles can be found here -

  • There is a gift shop, hot & cold drinks, guides and refreshments.

  • Dogs are welcome (on leads).

  • Accessible, although there are steep & narrow stairs to the roof top views

  • No toilets on site, nearest are just outside in the village (approx 100 meters)

Very helpful staff on site, explained how to get the most from our visit, other attractions nearby, membership benefits and local produce (the ginger mead was particularly good)

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