Always a small, “family run” castle, Helmsley’s claim to fame is that is was once owned by Richard III, but he actually preferred Middleham Castle when he was in the North of England. The original wooden castle on the site was built by Walter l’Espec in 1120, and it was Robert de Ros, grandson of Walter’s sister, who starting rebuilding the castle in stone, about 1186, so the same time as Edward I was building his great castles Conwy, Caernarfon and Harlech on the Welsh coast.
The great hall of the castle was altered in about 1543 to a Tudor House, and this can still be seen intact to day as after the civil war that part of the castle was spared ‘slighting’.
The castle was sold to Charles Duncombe in 1687, and after his death in 1711 the castle passed to his sister’s husband, who changed his name to Duncombe, and having got sick of draughty old castles built the stately home of Duncombe Park, which is still there to day. The rapidly decaying castle became a garden feature in the park, so Thomas didn’t have to build his own folly.
It’s worth a thought as to what it would be like if we were dropped back into 1200. Everywhere there would have been the ‘chip chip’ of stone masons working on stone, and the immense construction program of castles, monasteries, churches all over the country. Nearly all these old monuments were built between 1150 and 1250 AD, an incredibly intense 100 year stone building period.
Our shot of the castle was taken in the evening using a Canon 6D and 24-70 f/4 image stabilised lens.