Thank you, Kim, the handsome Ex-BA Wagon Dragon, this is for you.
You either love walking around romantic ruins, trying to envisage what life was like back in its former glory – or you don’t. If the latter is you, then I’m sorry, but I just can’t help myself – I love history, adore the glorious buildings, I just love, love, love it all.
Well, Helmsley Castle, in the stunning North York Moors National Park, is no exception. A must see for all. Learn how this now romantic Victorian ruin evolved through the ages from a mighty medieval fortress to a luxurious Tudor mansion to a Civil War stronghold.
This 12th century motte and bailey castle – a European fortification with a wooden or stone keep, situated on a raised area of ground, accompanied by a walled courtyard and surrounded by a protective ditch and palisade – or so my trusted friend Google reliably informs me.
The major highlights of the Castle include the Tudor Mansion, which was built between 1563 and 1587 by the Manners family. The interior of the house has large mullioned windows, oak panelling and detailed plasterwork, along with a stunning fireplace in the Lords private apartments. You will find a very informative exhibition, telling the story of Helmsley and the civil war siege, there are swords, daggers, arrowheads and other artifacts on show to wow you.
Nearby Duncombe Park is the stately home of the now owners, the Feversham family. In 1687 the Castle was sold to the Duncombe’s who built the large house, leaving the Castle to fall into ruin, which is now managed by English Heritage.
It was on our way out of the site that we were lucky enough to have bumped into the wonderful Kim. Now retired, he explained that he worked for BA as a ‘trolley dolly’ but after reaching a certain age you became a ‘wagon dragon’. His enthusiasm and knowledge for the building was contagious, and for the next 15 minutes enthralled us with little known interesting facts. He also explained that he was the only volunteer at this particular monument. My one comment to English Heritage – look after this man!
Outside, the picturesque market town of Helmsley sits on the banks of the river Rye. We only had time for a quick gander, wandering around the Friday weekly market stalls. We will come back another time and try to fit in the many other treasures that await.