Historic Middleham

Middleham was once the capital of Wensleydale and an important market town. Many of the key characters in TV’s The White Queen grew up here. It was the home of King Richard III, and, much visited by royalty and nobility, it became known as “the Windsor of the North”.

Middleham Castle

8114240-exterior15-800-webMiddleham Castle dates from Norman times. It passed into the ownership first of the powerful Neville family, Earls of Warwick, and later of Richard III.

In was eventually abandoned and plundered for building material but the shell of Middleham Castle, with its imposing Gatehouse and Keep, remains (now managed by English Heritage). Read more

Middleham Parish Church

The parish church bears the unique name of St Alkelda – who may have been a Saxon princess killed by the Danes, or (more probably) commemorates a pre-Christian holy well or “hal keld”.

In the 1400s, it became a collegiate church (almost a cathedral), with a Dean and six priests: part of a team saying perpetual masses for the Yorkist royal family. Inevitably, after York was defeated at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, the institution fell into decline.

Later, in a brief 19th century revival, The Water Babies author Charles Kingsley became a canon.

Housed in the church is a replica of the 15th century Middelham Jewel, which was discovered in a field close to the Castle by a metal detecting enthusiast in 1985. The diamond-shaped pendant has a long oblong sapphire and an engraving of the Trinity on the front and of the Nativity on the reverse.

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School House

A plaque on the wall of School House records that it was erected in 1869 to the memory of Rev James Ale-Birch, and dedicated to the Township of Middleham as a public school.

8114240-exterior01-800-webThe school’s most famous pupil was George Formby, who attended part time while he was working in one of Middleham’s racing stables. He later became a jockey before going into showbusiness.

A new village school opened just up the road in 1977. School House became the gallery, studio, and home of sculptor Peter Hibbard: fragments of his work can still be seen in the garden.

Steve McCann and Michelle Mackintosh bought the property in 2004, and completely renovated and remodelled it as a much-loved private house.

For a more extensive exploration of local history, click here