Richard lived here: Skipton Castle

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis   in Ricardian Places

Skipton Castle in North Yorkshire (for a map, click here) is of special Ricardian relevance for me because this is where I first heard of the existence of the Richard III Society.  However, that is not the only connection between the castle and Richard III – it actually belonged to him.

Skipton Castle (photograph by Dorothea Preis)

The history of the castle goes back to William the Conqueror, who granted the land around Skipton to Robert de Romille, who built the first wooden castle on this site.  A castle at Skipton is first mentioned in 1130.  The wooden structure was replaced by a stone castle between 1194 and 1241.

By 1274 the castle became the property of the king.  Edward II granted it in 1307 to his unpopular favourite Piers Gaveston.  In 1310, however, it was transferred to Robert de Clifford and the Clifford family held it until 1461 (1), when John, ‘Bloody Clifford’, the ninth Lord Clifford was killed at the Battle of Ferrybridge (2).  His son Henry was sent to Cumberland, where he was disguised as a shepherd, while the Skipton estate was confiscated by Edward IV (3).

Edward granted the Clifford estates in Yorkshire to William Stanley in 1462, who basically exchanged it in 1475 for Chirk in Wales, which had belonged to Richard Duke of Gloucester, a deal which suited both of them.  Richard took his interest in Skipton seriously and we know that he resided there (4).

During the time of Richard’s ownership, Skipton’s Holy Trinity Church was extended further eastwards, probably helped by a gift from Richard (5).

Henry Clifford, the son of ‘Bloody Clifford’, was allowed to reclaim his lands under Henry VII in 1485 (6).  It remained in the hands of the Clifford family until 1675 and their flag still flies over the castle.  Today it is one of the most complete and well preserved medieval castles in England (7).

Skipton Castle:  Clifford Coat of Arms (photograph by Dorothea Preis)

1.     BBC Home, ‘Yorkshire’s Castles:  Skipton Castle’.  (accessed 5.4.2010)
2.   ‘John Clifford, 9th Baron de Clifford’, Wikipedia.  (accessed 7.4.2010)
3.    ‘Yorkshire Castles:  Skipton Castle’
4.    Rosemary Horrox, Richard III:  A Study in Service. Cambridge University Press, 1989, p. 55
5.   ‘Holy Trinity Church, Skipton’.  (accessed 7.4.2010)
6.   ‘Yorkshire Castles:  Skipton Castle’
7.   ‘Skipton castle:  A complete medieval fortress’.   (accessed 5.4.2010)

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This entry was posted on Monday, April 12th, 2010 at 0:01 and is filed under Ricardian Places. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  1. Richard III Society of NSW » Blog Archive » Let’s Drink to That!    Sep 08 2010 / 9am:

    […] in Lancashire, not far from Skipton, the home of another Lancastrian family, the Clifford (see here).  There is a memorial to Sir Ralph Pudsey in the local church, which also includes his three […]

  2. Richard III Society of NSW » Blog Archive » Events, Events, Events    May 31 2012 / 5pm:

    […] usually portrays the Clifford household, who were Lords of Westmorland and Craven.  The venue, Skipton Castle, belonged to the Clifford family, but for ten years it belonged to Richard, duke of Gloucester, […]

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