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Sheriff Hutton Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Shirehuton; Shirhuton; Shirifwottes; Shirefhoton; Sherry-Hutton; Castle Ile

In the civil parish of Sheriff Hutton.
In the historic county of Yorkshire.
Modern Authority of North Yorkshire.
1974 county of North Yorkshire.
Medieval County of Yorkshire North Riding.

OS Map Grid Reference: SE651662
Latitude 54.08786° Longitude -1.00488°

Sheriff Hutton Castle has been described as a certain Masonry Castle, and also as a certain Palace.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.


standing, buried and earthwork remains of a late 14th century quadrangular castle and associated features including the earthworks of a 16th century garden. It is prominently located on the southern side of Sheriff Hutton, overlooking the Vale of York. John Lord Neville of Raby was granted a licence to build a stone castle in 1382 by Richard II. It is thought that this replaced the earlier earthen ringwork castle, which lies adjacent to the church 0.5km to the east, and is the subject of a separate scheduling. From the mid-15th century, Sheriff Hutton was held by Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, known as 'Warwick the Kingmaker'. He used Sheriff Hutton, along with Middleham castle, as his principal bases in the north of England. After his death in 1471 at the Battle of Barnet, Sheriff Hutton was seized by the crown and granted to Richard Duke of Gloucester who became Richard III in 1483. From circa 1489 the castle periodically hosted the Council of the North and in 1525 was granted by Henry VIII to his illigitimate son Henry Fitzroy, the Duke of Richmond and Warden-General of the Marches. Used as a seat of provincial government, at this time the castle had a staff of 142 in addition to the 100 servants in the Duke's retinue. A survey of the state of the castle found that extensive repairs were required, but by 1534 John Leyland wrote that there was 'no house in the North so like a princely lodgings'. These two documentary sources describe how the castle was formed by three courts or wards. The inner court included the hall, kitchen and the lord's stately lodgings including a chapel. The middle court was described as being protected by three great towers, the middle tower forming a gatehouse, but in 1525 this court required extensive repairs to its walls, a section of which over 20m long had collapsed. The outer court included a brewhouse, horse mills, stables and barns. A further series of repairs were made in 1537 when the castle was returned to Henry VIII following Fitzroy's death. Shortly afterwards, the Council of the North was moved to York and apart from a further campaign of repairs in 1573-75, the castle was allowed to decay, with the deliberate removal of roofing lead towards the end of the century. In 1618-19 James I sold the 'ruinous castle of Sheriff Hutton' to Thomas Lumsden. In 1621 it was bought by Sir Aurthur Ingram, in whose family it remained until the early 20th century, being used principally as a source of building materials. The castle is thought to have been too ruinous to have played any part in the English Civil War and was not included in the 1649 Parliamentarian survey of castles. There is a 1721 illustration of the north side of the castle and its layout is shown on plans of the village dated 1765 and 1786. A discussion of the various documentary and pictorial records of the monument forms part of a 1997 survey report by Ed Dennison which also describes in detail the surviving standing and earthwork remains of the monument. The monument is dominated by the four ruined towers of the castle's inner court, set at the western end of a natural ridge that stands over 9m above the land to the west and south. In design the inner court is very similar to Bolton Castle in Wensleydale which was built in 1379-1396. Parts of the curtain walls, which linked the four corner towers and include evidence of the integral building ranges and undercrofts inside them, also survive. Overall the inner court measures 66m by just over 52m externally, its long axis orientated NNW to SSE, although the castle is conventionally described as if it were aligned north-south. Adjacent to the south eastern tower, forming part of the eastern curtain wall, is the gatehouse which led out into the middle court. This is thought to have been an early 15th century addition to the castle and retains a frieze of four heraldic shields dated after 1402. This gatehouse is one of the features which suggests that the castle was designed as a high prestige residence with considerations of the display of wealth and power taking precedence over the needs of defence. The gatehouse has no provision for a portcullis and could be circumvented by a ground floor doorway through the southern curtain wall. The south western tower has the best views over the Vale of York and is thought to have included the high-status accommodation. It was divided into four floors with barrel- vaulted basement, ground floor rooms and well lit first and second floors approximately 6m and 5m high respectively. Each floor had windows in the southern and western walls, (the castle's external face), and where the moulding survives, appear to have been typically trefoil headed, often with twin lights. The other three corner towers are similar in design except that in place of the two high roofed upper floors there are three less lofty storeys. There is evidence that ground level chambers within the curtain walls also had windows facing out of the castle and it is possible that the doorway through the southern curtain wall was mirrored on the northern and western walls as well. On the 1765 map of Sheriff Hutton, the inner court was labelled Far Wards. Adjoining it to the east, there is a second walled enclosure depicted, which was labelled Fore Wards. This was also approximately quadrangular, but slightly larger than the inner court, occupying the same area as the farm buildings for the existing Castle Farm. This court is thought to have been for lower status accommodation, and probably included servants quarters and guard barracks as well as some auxiliary rooms such as stores. Buried evidence for these structures will survive beneath and around the existing buildings. The outer court is recorded as having a number of auxiliary buildings such as stables and a brewhouse, and is believed to have occupied the area between the middle court and the medieval market place to the east, which now survives as a village green. The area to the north and east of Castle Farm's farmhouse retains a number of low earthworks, some of which are interpreted as the buried remains of features in the outer court. The castle is a Listed Building Grade II-star To the south and west of the castle there are extensive earthwork remains of an impressive landscaped garden which is believed to have been created for Henry Fitzroy in the early 16th century. Part of this is a long carriage way that approaches the castle from the south west, runs along a raised causeway between two long, parallel, water-filled ornamental canals past the south side of the castle, to finally approach the east side of the middle court via a curving trackway up the hillside from the south east. The central part of the northern canal is thought to have been adapted from an earlier moat ditch which extends around the western and northern sides of the inner court. Between the canal and the slope up to the middle court there are two depressions which are thought to be smaller ornamental ponds, and are possibly also adapted from the earlier moat. To the west of the inner court, beyond the moat, there are low earthworks that are interpreted as the remains of medieval properties fronting onto Finkle Street which would have been inhabited by villagers. These are thought to have been cleared for the construction of the castle. Immediately to the south there is an open area which retains faint ridge and furrow, left by the medieval system of ploughing, suggesting that the castle also took in part of the village's open field system. Further ridge and furrow extends to the south of the southern ornamental canal where it is much more pronounced. This well- preserved block of the medieval open field system is also included within the monument and lies in a much larger area which formed a deer park attached to the castle, using the southern canal as part of its boundary. The area represents a complete furlong with header banks at both the north and south ends of the field. (Scheduling Report)

Licence to crenellate granted to John, Lord Neville in 1382. Leland wrote 'I saw no house in the north so much like the palace of a prince.'

Systematical robbed of its fixtures, fitting, timbers and fine stone it shared the fate of most castles and its "gates were more likely stolen than stormed" (Richardson, 2009).

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1382 April 26 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).


Privately owned and access to the interior by prior arrangement only but a public footpath around the castle gives good views of the castle and the extensive garden earthworks. Sheriff Hutton Castle has an important place in English history with its associations with Warwick the Kingmaker and Richard III, and its use as a seat of provincial government via the Council of the North up until 1537. Used as a palace for Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, the acknowledged bastard son of Henry VIII, during his childhood.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:06

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