Helmsley Castle, North Yorkshire

The impressive ruins of Helmsley’s medieval castle are located just a short walk from the market place in the town centre. Helmsley itself is an attractive market town full of quirky little shops and is usually busy with lots of visitors.

Helmsley Castle is surrounded by spectacular earthworks. These were dug out in Norman times. The earliest surviving masonry dates from the 12th Century. All that remains now are parts of the keep, tower and curtain walls.

In the Civil War, the Castle was besieged in 1644 by Thomas Fairfax who was commander of the Parliamentary forces. During the siege, Thomas was injured and on recognition of this, he was given what was left of the castle in 1651.

Under command of Fairfax were 700 foot soldiers and 300 cavalrymen. Sir Gordon Crosland, the Royalist commander under siege, managed to hold out for 3 months. At which point the food ran out. The Royalists were allowed to surrender honourably.

The Parliamentarians destroyed much of the East Tower and curtain walls to stop them from being used again for military purposes. The Tudor Mansion was left undamaged.

In Elizabethan times, the mansion became a luxurious country house. Some of the original plasterwork and panelling still survive.

Visiting the Castle

Helmsley Castle is open most of the year, except in winter when it normally only opens Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The castle is next to the long stay park just off the B1257 (YO62 5AB).

English Heritage manage the Castle and members can enter for free.

As well as exploring the ruins it is possible to walk around the top of the banks and bottom of the defensive ditches. The walk around the top of the defensive bank has great views of the Walled Garden and Duncombe Park Estate. Scattered around the grounds are a number of picnic areas if you fancy eating you lunch in the grounds.

Rievaulx Abbey is nearby and within easy reach by following the Cleveland Way. A walk of about one and a half hours each way. This is a very popular walk through woodland and open countryside.

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