Post # 5 Helmsley Castle

I will be the Tour guide for Helmsley castle. Helmsley castle is located in the town of Helmsley on an outcrop overlooking the River Rye. The first castle located at Helmsley was built in 1120s by Walter Spec. The castle built by Walter had a rectangular ringwork design with an inner closing bailey. The castle was also built out of wood. The first castle also had two massive banks divided by deep ditches crowned by timber palisades. The entrance to the castle was located on the north-west side beyond the outer bailey. The size of the ringwork indicates that it was the entrance to Walter’s estate and would have therefore had many domestic buildings for the purpose serving and accommodating Walter and his family as well as guests. These buildings would have located within the inner bailey. Other buildings such as workshops, stables, housing for the workers and the ancillary have thought to be located in the outer bailey. Walter died in 1154 and his castle was passed down to his sister Adelina since Walter had no children.

In 1186 Robert De Roos Fursan came into procession of Helmsley castle. Some time after Robert rebuilt the castle in stone. The ringwork was leveled and curtain walls with round towers was built in its place. The curtain wall also had wall walk that reach the stairs to the south of the east tower. There was also the addition of subsidiary gates which led through the curtain all onto a path that overlooked the inner ditch. Furthermore, the north gate was reinforced with the addition of two round towers. A new gate was also built in the south-east corner of the castle and became the new main entrance leading into the inner bailey. Other additions to Helmsley castle added by Robert include towers built midway along both the west and east curtain and new outer bailey. The east tower had a vaulted basement with a single room. The west tower had a barrel vaulted basement and contained Robert’s private quarters which connected with a hall to north. A new chapel was also added to the castle in 1246.

The next major additions to Helmsley castle was carried out Robert’s grandson who remodeled the south gate and added barbicans to both the north and south gates. The outer ditch was realigned in the mid thirteen century and a massive drawbridge was added.  Later in the sixteen century the south barbican was once again rebuilt to to serve as a gatehouse. Walls was also built across the inner ditch to join the south barbican to the main defences of the castle .

Main remodeling of Helmsley castle took place in took place under William in the fourteen century who remodeled the castle for the defences and its domestic accommodation. William reinforced the south barbican as well as provided accommodations for his guards. He did this by raising the east tower to three storey and adding a turreted parapet. He also added a new hall to the kitchen from the east tower and service rooms in the south west corner of the inner bailey.  The west tower was also refurbished and each floor now had a fireplace and garderobes.. There was also the addition of a bakery and brewery.

In the 1560s the castle was refurbished under Edward Manners and a house was built in the shell of west tower and twelfth century hall. Further chambers were built above the old garderobe tower and the thirteen century chapel was converted to a kitchen.

The castle remained with the De Roos family until 1478 when it was sold to Richard, the Duke of Gloucester. On Richard III death bed the castled was given back to Edmund De Roos and when he died in the 1508 the castle was given to Sir George Manners. The castle descended through the Manners family until 1632 when it was passed to George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham as dowry for his wife Katharine Manners. Helmsley Castle was held for Royalists during the Civil War. It was surrendered to the Parliament in November of 1687, it was slighted during this time as well. The Second Duke of Buckingham came to live in the house in 1687. The castle was sold to Charles Duncombes in 1688 following the death of the second Duke of Buckingham. The Duncombes abandoned castle and as a result it came under state in 1915 and has been in state since then.




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