Gilling Castle–Gilling East near Helmsley

Has been described as a Certain Tower House, and also as a Certain Uncertain

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameGilling Castle–Gilling East near Helmsley
Alternative NamesMoat Hill; Galchlin
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishGilling East

Country house, now school. Tower house of late C14 with late C16 alterations possibly including the addition of wings, and extensive remodelling of west front and wings in C18. Tower house built for Sir Thomas Etton. Alterations of late C16 for Sir William Fairfax. Early C18 alterations by William Wakefield for 5th or 6th Viscount Fairfax. Limestone rubble and ashlar. U-shaped with rectangular central section flanked by wings running to west. East facade: tower house of 3 storeys and 4 bays with canted bay to left and staircase turret in third'bay with plinth and quoins. Blocked basket-arched door in angle of staircase turret which has 2-light square-headed double-chamfered mullion windows. First floor: double-chamfered mullion windows with 2 levels of transom and continuous hoodmoulds, of 9 lights to canted bay and 4 lights to second bay. Similar windows to second floor with single transom. Evidence of blocked fenestration to fourth bay. West front: 2 storeys and basement. 5-bay main range with projecting wings with ends emphasised by canted bays to-west front and return walls. Main range: basement has 6-pane sash to left and 6-fielded-panel door beneath divided overlight to right, flanking double- flight staircase to entrance with pair of keyed oculi beneath entrance. 2 bands, the upper one forming continuous sill to ground floor windows. Ground floor: half-glazed fielded-panel door beneath tall divided overlights in Gibbs surround with attached Ionic columns supporting plain pediment. Unequal 15-pane sashes in Gibbs surrounds. First floor: 6-pane sashes, that to centre in eared and shouldered architrave. Band carrying parapet with blind panels surmounted by 6 urns, articulating the bays. Similar details to wings. Interior: basement retains late C14 plan with central barrel- vaulted corridor and pointed doorways. East door, formerly external, carries 6 shields bearing Etton arms and retains a groove for a portcullis

The Great Chamber above is an impressive example of Elizabethan crafts- manship with marquetry panelling, painted frieze showing the arms of the gentlemen of Yorkshire, imposing carved 3-stage chimney piece bearing Fairfax achievement of arms and elaborate pendant boss ribbed plaster ceiling. Windows contain heraldic stained glass and are signed Bernard Dirickhoff, dated 1585. Other C16 features include a carved wooden chimney piece in the classroom to the right of the main entrance hall, and a massive queen-strut roof in the south wing suggesting an origin earlier than C18 for this part of the building. Of the C18 work the entrance hall and eastern rooms of the north wing probably date from about 1715 while the western rooms are probably about 20 years later. The Hall is Vanbrugian in character and is comparable with Beningborough and Duncombe. It is probably by William Thornton of York. To the centre of each wall are paired: Corinthian columns carrying arches except to the south where there is a chimneypiece. Elaborate plasterwork with swags and shell motifs by Cortese. Stair hall containing open string staircase with elaborately carved balusters. Room to north of Great Chamber has corner chimneypiece characteristic of early C18 and paralleled at Beningborough. The rest of the interior decoration of the north wing is of the later date with fine moulded wainscots, enriched ceiling friezes and carved wooden fireplaces and overdoors. The original interior of the long gallery of the same date was removed and sold in 1929 and the room now contains panelling by Thompson of Kilburn. The south-west drawing room has a fine carved chimneypiece and a western recess frame by an Ionic twin-columned recess. Tower erected by Thomas de Etton from 1349. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Suggested as site of the castle of Galchlin mentioned in 1140, although that suggestion is not supported by the tenurial history or other evidence.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSE611768
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved View full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved View full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved View full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved View full Sized Image

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  • 1934, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 91 p. 370-1 online copy
  • Anon (Tipping), 1908 Sep 28, 'Gilling Castle' Country Life p. 416-26
  • Bilson, J., 1906-7, 'Gilling Castle' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 19 p. 105-192 online copy

Guide Books

  • Anon, n.d., Gilling Castle Guide Book


  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 97 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 107 online copy
  • Creighton, O.H., 1998, Castles and Landscapes: An Archaeological Survey of Yorkshire and the East Midlands (PhD Thesis University of Leicester) p. 593 online copy