This view from the edge of the Low Moor shows the magnificent outline of the great castle, once known as the `Windsor of the North` during the reign of King Richard III

There has been a settlement here since Roman times and Middleham is mentioned in the Domesday Book when its name was `Medelai`.  

Situated in Wensleydale, nestling on the hillside between the River Cover and the River Ure just 2 miles from the busy little market town of Leyburn is Middleham with its magnificent castle ruins towering over clusters of old grey stone cottages, fine old Georgian and Victorian houses and its two cobbled market squares.

Middleham is noted for three famous features - King Richard the Third, the magnificent Castle with the largest keep in the north of England and in more modern times its horse-racing industry.

The growth of the racing industry in Georgian times saw the rebuilding of much of Middleham and the establishment of the first recorded racehorse trainer, Isaac Cape around 1765.  Race meetings were held regularly on the High Moor during the 18th Century and during this period most of the town was rebuilt.  Now much of the town is protected as a conservation area and European funding has financed the re-cobbling of the towns squares.

One of the earliest most influential inhabitants of the castle was Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick also known as `The Kingmaker` who during the Wars of the Roses held both Edward IV and Henry VI prisoner at Middleham. 

There have been many books by various historians about the life and times of King Richard III - this enigmatic sovereign - much of it is still supposition and speculation but here is a brief outline of what has been written about his life here in Middleham.
Around 1462 a young Richard, (then Duke of Gloucester) came here as part of his training in the skills of war under the Earl of Warwick.
 It was here that Richard met his future wife Anne Neville (Warwick's daughter) and they married in 1472.  During his time at Middleham he increased its status when it became his political power base whilst he administered the North on behalf of his brother King Edward 1V  and created more trading opportunities at extra `fairs` in the town.   It was also his intention to found a college and in 1478 the Church of St. Mary and St. Alkelda was made `collegiate` by Richard, then Duke of Gloucester and had history taken a different course, Middleham could possibly have been a great seat of learning with a King`s College here!   Richard became King in 1483 much to the joy of the inhabitants of Middleham.
His reign, however, was short and he suffered personal tragedies, his eleven year old only son Edward died at Middleham Castle on the 9th April 1484 followed the next year by Richard`s wife Anne who died, aged 28, on March 16th 1485.  Richard did not survive his wife long, he died, aged only 31, at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 fighting valiantly to the last ~ the last reigning English monarch to die in battle and he was greatly mourned here in the north ~ requiem mass is still said in Middleham Church on the anniversary of his death.

Unfortunately the best known written work has been the storyline by William Shakespeare who portrayed him as a villain thus gaining favour for himself  with the Tudors.. But latter day historians have tried to redress the balance portraying him as betrayed, unfairly maligned, generous, loyal and much loved by his people.

"King Richard, late mercifully reigning upon us.. was slain and murdered to the great heaviness of this city"
(York City Council Books - entered the day after Bosworth) 


King Richard III
(portrait reproduced by kind permission of the Richard III Foundation)

The Middleham Jewel
This 15th century pendant, decorated with a large sapphire, was found near Middleham Castle.This jewel belongs to the period of Richard III and is almost certainly a reliquary containing perhaps a fragment of wood reputed to come from the Cross, or some other relic associated with Christ. 

The Last Plantagenet King
For more information on the life of King Richard III
please go to our `links` section
where there are connections
to informative websites.

In 1985, Ted Seaton had been metal detecting near Middleham Castle, as he was about to pack up and go home he detected a faint signal and from about 15" down he unearthed what appeared to be an old compact. It was only when he got home that he realised what he had found. After cleaning it turned out to be a gold pendant weighing 68 gm together with a 10 ct blue sapphire stone. A scene of the Trinity  is engraved on one side of the diamond-shaped pendant and has a border of burnished gold surrounding a raised panel which gives a cameo effect and highlights the engraving.
The border carries a Latin inscription showing the pendant to be a charm against `falling sickness` (epilepsy).  The discovery was adjudged not to be Treasure Trove.
This wonderful find was sold at auction where it realised the incredible sum of £1.3 million.
The Yorkshire Museum, in York, has since raised £2.5 million to acquire the now world-famous Jewel and keep it in this country.
It is one of the most exquisite pieces of English Gothic jewellery found this century.

Here is an interesting link to a website with information on the Battles and People
involved in the Wars of the Roses

Marion Moverley is our local historian and she has put together lots of interesting facts, stories, superb pictures
and historical details of our town which will fascinate all lovers of Middleham.
Click here to read on....

Also anyone wanting to find out about family connections here is a link to the Local Family History Group

Reflections of the Yorkist Realm
A website created by historian David Santiuste and photographer Rae Tan.
It features images of places associated with the Yorkist period of English history (the later fifteenth century), together with complementary text. This website provides a unique interpretation of the heritage around us and will appeal to anybody with an interest in Englandís medieval past.




Middleham Castle: A Royal Residence

Take a journey around this fabulous castle as it is now and as it was in Richard the third's time, in all its splendour.
If you have visited Middleham Castle and wondered what it might have looked like when it was home to
King Richard you should take a look at this website where you will find details of an amazing computerised reconstruction on DVD of the castle as it was then and now!
We highly recommend it to all lovers of Middleham & King Richard III


Meetings once a month
For details contact Tony Keates on 01969 640436

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