Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Helmsley Castle (Helmsley)

Helmsley Castle is an impressive ruin in the pleasant North Yorkshire town of Helmsley.

The first castle was built, in the years following the Norman Conquest, by Robert de Mortain, half brother of William the Conqueror, and this was added to in the 12th century by Walter l`Espec, who founded nearby Rievaulx Abbey.

The present walls, towers and barbican were constructed in the 13th century and Edward Manners, Duke of Rutland, added oak panelling in the living quarters in the 16th century.

During the Civil War Helmsley Castle was fortified for the king, and surrendered after a long siege, during which Fairfax was wounded and had to retire to York. The castle was thereupon slighted.

At the Restoration it passed to the Duke of Buckingham, but he lost his money and the castle was sold to the London banker Sir Charles Duncombe.

It was Duncombe who commissioned Sir John Vanbrugh to build Duncombe Park on the edge of town, and this house replaced the old castle.

Helmsley Castle is now in the care of English Heritage, and they have provided an excellent Visitor Centre.

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