A Walk Through Time in Sheriff Hutton

The Castle at Sheriff Hutton
The Castle at Sheriff Hutton

The village of Sheriff Hutton is situated approximately 10 miles to the North East of York, and ca. 20 miles from the A1 in Yorkshire.

The Church of St Helen and the Holy Cross, Sheriff Hutton

Mentioned in the Domesday book as a village with 5 households, Sheriff Hutton remains a small village.

The main street is the historic highway from York, and the ruins of a castle stands towards the south of the village, with the church of St Helen and the Holy Cross at the end of the street.

11th to 13th Century

Previously to the Norman conquest of 1066, Sheriff Hutton was held by an Anglo Saxon Lord named Ligulf, and 20 years later, land was gifted to the Bulmer family by William the Conqueror.

Sheriff Hutton Castle
The North West Tower of Sheriff Hutton Castle

The Bulmer family built a castle which was a Norman motte and bailey, for which the Mound remains today.

14th Century

The Neville family owned the Lordship of Sheriff Hutton by  1331, and it is thought that the structure built by the Bulmer family was abandoned by 1382.

This was when John, Lord Neville of Raby began construction of a castle after he was given a license by Richard II. This is the castle that we see in ruins today.

Sheriff Hutton Castle

15th Century

The height of activity in Sheriff Hutton was during the 15th Century, in particular during the dynastic cousins war, the War of the Roses.

Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (the Kingmaker) owned the castle during the late 15th century, and he used it as one of his main residences in the North, alongside Middleham Castle in Wensleydale.

A young Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III) was possibly housed there under the tutelage of the Earl.

Ruins of Sheriff Hutton Castle from the North
Ruins of Sheriff Hutton Castle from the North

When the Earl of Warwick was killed at the Battle of Barnet after a rebellion against King Edward IV, the castle and lands were seized and given to Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

Richard III made use of the castle regularly and it was one of two castles (the other being Sandal castle) that were used as the Headquarters of the Council of the North. Founded by Richard, this council continued for nearly a century after his death.

Edward of Middleham, Richard’s only son died in 1484 at the age of 10 and for many years it was thought that he was laid to rest in the church of St Helen and The Holy Cross, with an alabaster effigy thought to be his.

Effigy thought to be that of Edward of Middleham
Effigy thought to be that of Edward of Middleham

In more recent times, it has been thought that it is not the effigy of Edward, due to it being dated to an earlier time period.

In 1485, Richard spent time waiting for the invasion of Henry Tudor and used the castles northern position to it’s advantage, housing his brother’s son Edward, Earl of Warwick, his nephew John de la Pole and his niece Elizabeth of York for their safe keeping.

After the death of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, the castle remained in royal hands until it was gifted to Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, then Duke of Norfolk who was based here whilst he governed the North.

16th Century and decline

When the Duke of Norfolk died, the castle reverted back to crown ownership, with Henry VIII setting it up as the household for his illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy.

The castle from the North West
The castle from the North West

Henry Fitzroy had been appointed the Lieutenant-General of the North and Warden of the Scottish Marches, however as he was a child he was supported by the council. The castle was staffed and supported as fitting for a Duke,  with a retinue of over 140 people.

Henry Fitzroy died at the age of 17, and the ownership passed through successive monarchs.

The castle went into a slow decline in the late 16th century, with it being harvested for building materials.

By the reign of James 1st, the castle was in a ruinous state, and came into the possession of the Ingram family in 1622, and remained in the family until the early 20th century.

It has been in the current owner’s family, the Howarths, since 1919.

Visiting the Castle today

The castle is on private land, which is a working farm. However, there is a public path that allows to you to walk around the circumference of the ruins.

Bolton Castle in Wensleydale was built around the same time as Sheriff Hutton and remains almost in tact. It is a good example of what Sheriff Hutton looked like in its prime.

Further reading

The British History website has a plan of the castle, and much detail on the background.

The Richard III society has an artist’s depiction of the castle as Richard would have known it.

Visit my flickr for all the photo’s from my visit.

Sheriff Hutton on British-History.ac.uk
Sheriff Hutton in the Domesday Book
UK and Ireland Genealogy – Sheriff Hutton
Gatehouse Gazetteer – Sheriff Hutton Castle

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