Middleham Castle

Posted: June 12, 2010 in Middleham Castle

An old print of Middleham Castle. A small part of my recent splurge.

The original castle at Middleham, built by Alan Rufus, a nephew of the Conqueror, was constructed on William’s Hill, a little to the southwest of the current castle site. It was abandoned in the 12th century and a new castle was built on lower ground where there was access to a more reliable water supply.
It was a massive, square castle with walls up to 12 feet thick. Succeeding lords of Middleham extended the castle, adding floors, moving gates and extending towers. When intact, it must have been an imposing structure.

Image from the dvd Middleham Castle, a royal residence. http://www.loyaltybindsme.com

Middleham was not only a home to the Nevills, and later the duke and duchess of Gloucester, but a potent symbol of the power of its lord. Under the Tudors it was left to slowly fall into disrepair. Succeeding owners were unable to arrest its decline.

Reconstruction of great hall from a postcard that accompanied the dvd.

Now owned by English Heritage, the castle ruins are open to the public. The earl of Salisbury would weep, I think, to see it and Warwick would cast around for some heads to kick.
Enormous thanks to Su_H for pointing me to the Middleham dvd.
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Comments
  1. Kathryn says:

    I love to see these reconstructions of castles – thanks for posting!

  2. Ragged Staff says:

    I was pretty gobsmacked when I saw it in all its glory, Kathryn. It was a very beautiful and imposing structure. Perfect for the Nevills.

  3. Caroline says:

    How sad that such a magnificent structure suffered such a decline. Unfortunately, even if the Tudor owners maintained Middleham I think there's a good chance it would have met the same fate as Pontefract, which was slighted during the Civil War.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I think those reconstruction videos are so much fun to see! It's amazing what architects/designers can throw together with ruins and older drawings. I think so far my favorite ruin to visit was Urquhart, but I would love to see Middleham as it has featured in many books I have read. I think that was a good splurge 🙂

  5. Ragged Staff says:

    It survived to some extent for some years, Caroline. People were living there (at least in bits of it) up till 1644 and it was intended during the ECW to use it as a prison, but great chunks of it were demolished by the roundheads (right but repulsive, if you remember 1066 And All That). It really never was quite the same again after 1485 though. And I agree, it was a stunning castle.

  6. Ragged Staff says:

    Thanks Elizabeth. I'm always astonished at how they can take a pile of tumbled stones, two holes in the floor and an empty space and tell us it was a kitchen! And I'm enjoying my splurge so far, thank you. Dad didn't leave us much, but I used my share well. He never did like the cold – hence big cozy wood fire in the lounge; and he encouraged us to read, to he'd approve the books as well.

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