Over the summer, we visited North Yorkshire and did the Richard III trail. Our base was Middleham so this was the first castle we visited. It was great walking through the village and seeing the castle rise up from behind the houses (quite a few of which were apparently built with castle stone). Built in the 12th Century, the castle was added to over the years to become a luxurious fortress before being allowed to become a ruin during the reign of the Tudors.
It was the childhood home of Richard III and one of his favourite places to stay throughout his life, becoming part of his Northern power base. The castle belonged to the Neville family, the Earls of Westmoreland and of Warwick, who were Richards’s wards, and it was here Richard met his wife, Anne Neville, and where his son died aged 10 or 11.
During The War of the Roses, both Edward IV and Henry VI were prisoners here at different times. Because I was reading about the War of the Roses at the time, this was the most interesting part of the castle’s history for me but there is so much more to it than that and we spent a good hour or so walking around the grounds and learning more about it’s past, plus that of Middleham (if I remember correctly, for example, the town still say a mass on Richard’s birthday).
To help you get your historical bearings, there is information in all of the key people connected to the castle in a small exhibition space and children get an activity sheet for going around the castle, encouraging them to look for features etc. There is also plenty of space for them to run around and explore.
As mentioned at the beginning, the castle is slap bang in the middle of the village and Middleham is a great place to spend some time. There were a lot of people on walking holidays whilst we were there as it is in Wensleydale, a beautiful part of Yorkshire, and great pubs and tea rooms for those in need of refreshments. There are also some cute shops if you want to spend your money. Definitely worth a visit! Emma