SHERIFF HUTTON CASTLE
Originally a Yorkshire stronghold for the powerful Neville family and later owned by Richard III, Sheriff Hutton Castle was built predominantly as a lordly residence. It was used to host meetings of the ‘Council of the North’ but by the seventeenth century had fallen into disrepair.
Sheriff Hutton was already an existing settlement in 1066 when William I granted it to Ansketil de Bulmer, a Saxon who had supported the Norman cause. It was perhaps due to his origin that no castle was raised in the immediate aftermath of the conquest. However an earth and timber fortification, initially configured as a ringwork castle, was erected during the Anarchy (1139-54) - the civil war between Stephen and Matilda over the English succession. Built in 1140 by Bertram de Bulmer, Sheriff of York the site was originally held for Matilda but shortly after construction it was seized for Stephen by Alan Rufus, Earl of Brittany. It was later returned to the Bulmer family.
In 1331 the male line of the Bulmers failed and the castle passed to the Neville family through marriage (Geoffrey de Neville to Emma Bulmer). John, Lord Neville sought a license to crenellate in 1382 and built a new stone castle on a different site from the earlier timber fortification. Completed by 1398, it was built from rubble with ashlar limited to corners and dressings. The Inner Ward was configured in a quadrangular arrangement and was enclosed with a substantial curtain wall. Four towers, ranging from three to five storeys tall, stood at each corner and provided the accommodation whilst the Great Hall itself was built within the courtyard. The Outer Ward, located to the east, hosted the domestic and service outbuildings. It is likely the castle was constructed with the requirement to function as a high status residence outweighing any defensive function. The castle may have been designed by Johan Lewyn who had built nearby Bolton Castle around the same time.
The castle passed to Richard Neville, later Earl of Warwick, in 1425. He would later support the Yorkist cause during the Wars of the Roses famously becoming known as the 'Kingmaker'. But Edward IV's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville led him to switch sides and he launched a dramatic coup against the King. Edward IV fled abroad but soon returned defeating and killing Neville at the Battle of Barnet (1471). Sheriff Hutton passed to his daughter, Anne Neville, who married Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III).
Edward IV died unexpectedly in April 1483 and Richard became Lord Protector for the twelve year old Edward V. However, political machinations resulted in the young King being declared illegitimate and Richard taking the throne. Sheriff Hutton was now a Royal property and key to controlling Richard's core power base in the north of England. Situated just thirteen miles from York, the northern capital, Sheriff Hutton was chosen as one of two sites (the other being Sandal Castle) to host the recently established 'Council of the North', a body designed to improve Royal administration in Northern England. He also used the site as a stronghold and as the threat of invasion from Henry Tudor increased he sent his retinue to the castle for their safety.
Richard was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field (1485) and, along with Richard's other properties, Sheriff Hutton passed to Henry Tudor (now Henry VII). He retained the castle but it saw dramatically reduced use especially when the reconstituted Council of the North moved to York. It briefly became an important residence again in the early sixteenth century when Henry VIII granted the site to his illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond. A landscaped garden was laid out at this time - presumably for the Duke - but when he died in 1536 the site reverted to the Crown.
The castle was periodically maintained during the sixteenth century. Charles I sold it in 1618 to Thomas Lumsden who in turn sold it to Sir Arthur Ingram in 1622. The latter had built a mansion house to the south of the village and plundered stone from the castle to support construction of domestic and auxiliary buildings. The ruined fortification was abandoned with its grounds eventually being used as part of a farm and it continues in that role to this day.
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Sheriff Hutton Castle is an unstable ruin and therefore there is no public access into the grounds themselves. However, the exterior ruins can be viewed from the public footpaths that run adjacent to the site. The earthworks of the earlier castle can be seen from the grounds of St Helen's Church.
Sheriff Hutton Castle. The stone castle was built by Bertram de Bulmer, Sheriff of York which accounts for the first half of the castle’s name. Hutton derived from 'hoh' (ridge of high land) and 'tun' (farmstead). Today the tall masonry remains of the corner turrets has prompted commentators to liken it to an upturned table.
Layout. The Inner Ward was broadly rectangular. A tower stood on each corner with the two to the north standing five storeys tall.
Sheriff Hutton Castle is found within the village of the same name. There is no access to the interior but a public footpath, accessed from Finkle Street, allows external viewing. On-road parking is possible nearby.
Car Parking Option
Main Street, YO60 6SS
Sheriff Hutton Castle
Finkle Street, YO60 6RB
Original Castle Site