top of page
  • Writer's pictureMelissa Speed

Middleham Castle

Updated: Jul 15, 2022

Once home to Richard III, Middleham Castle had previously been the seat of the powerful Neville family for generations. Following the footsteps of a long line of visitors, including Edward IV (who stayed here for three days in May 1461), we spent a wet Saturday here in January 2022.


Don't need accessibility info? Jump to The Visit to find out what it's like to visit Middleham Castle and read about some of its histories.

Location


Middleham Castle

Castle Hill

Middleham

North Yorkshire

DL8 4QG


Access


Parking is roadside only. There is no car park and the road only has space for a small number of cars.


The Grounds are mostly grassed areas that are naturally uneven with a possibility of rabbit holes, and there are of course some small areas of ruins to step across, such as when accessing the picnic benches. There is, however, ramped access into the ground floor of the keep. Access to the upper levels is via a spiral staircase which is in good condition and has a handrail, but there are many steps. Upon reaching the first floor, visitors can then ascend a small set of wooden steps onto a viewing platform at the level of the former Great Hall, before continuing to the top of the tower via the spiral staircase.


The Gift Shop is small and some visitors may need assistance with the door, but the staff member on duty was friendly, helpful, and knowledgable about the site, the local area, and the history.


Facilities are not available on-site. The gift shop/visitor centre has a hot-drinks machine.

Public toilets are available in the village and is accessible according to the local council (I did not use these facilities so cannot verify). For more information: https://www.richmondshire.gov.uk/community/public-toilets/public-toilet-information/middleham/

Changing Places toilets are available at several locations in the wider area. The nearest public space CPT is located 18 miles away in Northallerton Library, or you can search for alternatives here.


The Visit


How I have longed to visit Middleham Castle! Home to one of the most fascinating noble families in English History, it has been calling to me through every book, website, magazine and journal to reference the name Neville. To finally make it here has been a dream come true.


The Nevilles were a prominent family with ties to many other noble families throughout the land, but the most famous of them all is undoubtedly Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (The Kingmaker). Vilified in much historical fiction, I have something of a soft spot for this particular Neville despite some of his literary representations. Having said that, he did imprison Edward IV here in 1469 (after holding him at Warwick Castle). From visitor to prisoner in less than a decade! If these walls could talk I'd listen for days on end. Sadly, they can't, but they can still tell us a lot, which is why I am glad some of them still stand to welcome visitors.


The Nevilles had been supporters of the house of Lancaster when Henry IV usurped the throne, but, like so many others, their allegiance changed from time to time. Many people have criticised those who switched sides, but it was a common occurrence in those turbulent times, and whether you believe someone was disloyal and self-serving or fighting for what they believed was right, we can never know what their private thoughts were. But I'll tell you what: visiting the places connected to them, the homes where they hosted friends, took in young wards, held captive foes, lived and died ... that is something that helps us feel one step closer.


Speaking of wards and deaths, Richard III spent time here in his youth as a ward of Warwick before owning the castle himself after Warwick's death, and his son Edward died here in 1484. What a history this place has!


Before I get carried away talking about the Nevilles and the Wars of the Roses (it's my favourite subject, as you can probably tell), I'll move on to the specifics of the visit.


This site has its challenges, I have to be honest. Although English Heritage has provided ramped access into the keep, there are no stairlifts or elevators like you find at some of their bigger sites. This is a relatively small property in their portfolio and the site has some natural limitations, so I don't hold it against them. I didn't attempt to get up the steps in the keep to the top of the tower, photographs are courtesy of my son. However, I did, with the help of my husband, eventually make it to the viewing platform on the first floor. I'll admit I cried, not just from the pain, but from the sheer rapture of being so close to my four favourite historical Richards.



I do not recommend attempting to cross uneven surfaces or ascend stairs if you have any health or mobility issues that mean this would be a risk to you. If anyone had seen me and my husband attempting to get me up there they would have thought we were mad or may even have tried to stop us; luckily, we were the only visitors, though that's a sad thought in itself (a site with so much history deserves more visitors).


Top Tips


  • Arrive early to improve your chances of finding a parking spot


  • Be aware of the uneven ground when walking or wheeling across the grassed areas


  • The site is not free. English Heritage members can use their passes, but if you do not have membership there is a small admission charge


  • Understand that this is a castle in ruins and a small site, with a wealth of history but limited accessibility (good ground-level access but uneven in parts)


  • Prepare for dirty ferrules and wheels



For More on the History


For an introduction to the Wars of the Roses, try Dan Jones' The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors.


For an introduction to the Wars of the Roses through fiction, I recommend Conn Iggulden's four-book series, beginning with Stormbird.


For young readers, my son read Scholastic's Richard III (I Was There) when he was eight and thoroughly enjoyed it.



Their guidebook is excellent.



For More on the Site


Middleham Castle is in the care of English Heritage.





Final Note


Middleham Castle is a must-visit site for me, as I have an enthusiasm for the Wars of the Roses, Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, and King Richard III.


For those looking for plenty to do on-site, fully accessible, this probably isn't for you.


But, if you're looking for a place with history oozing from its walls, you can feel it in the air at this place: just being there at ground level will help you feel a connection to that fascinating time and those remarkable, notorious people.


We visited another English Heritage property on our way home, which I'll write about soon.


Until then, happy travels.




*Disclaimer: This blog is written as a travel blog with a disability focus and history theme. It is intended to entertain and inform but is in no way a comprehensive guide and I do not attempt to provide a full accessibility guide for any site. Readers planning to visit any sites should check site websites or contact sites directly for up-to-date information on opening times, facilities, accessibility and other required information.

Recent Posts

See All

1 comentario


k.heads
19 ene 2022

Awesome post. Must try and get there at some point.

Me gusta
bottom of page