Mulgrave Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Other/Unknown), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameMulgrave Castle
Alternative NamesMowgreue; Meaulx; Mont-Grace; Multgrese
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishLythe

a medieval enclosure castle which was at least partly occupied until the beginning of the 17th century; in the 18th century the ruins were used as the central feature of a planned landscape designed by Humphrey Repton in the grounds of New Mulgrave Castle. Old Mulgrave Castle (a Grade I Listed Building) lies at the top of a steep-sided, narrow ridge with the valley of Sandsend Beck to the north and the valley of East Row to the south. The castle is constructed at a point where the ridge broadens out and its curtain walls are cut into the hillside, retaining a terraced platform which is polygonal in plan, measuring 90m east-west by 70m north-south. The interior ground level of the castle is up to 7.2m higher than that of the exterior and over the years numerous buttresses have been added to the curtain walls in order to reinforce them against outward collapse; at the north eastern corner these measures proved ineffective and a 30m stretch of the curtain has fallen away. A 10m wide moat surrounds the castle on its eastern, southern, and western sides, although it has been altered in several places to conform to later landscape schemes. A later trackway ramps down into the moat from the east, runs along the bottom of the moat around the south western perimeter of the castle before continuing westwards; a bank, 5m wide and 1.5m high, is visible on the southern edge of the trackway and is a remnant of the outer bank of the castle moat. The eastern arm of the moat survives as a ditch, 14m wide and 4m deep, but the northern end of this ditch has been altered by the addition of a causeway and a stone-lined pond. To the north of the castle on lower slopes an unusual bank between 1.2m and 1.8m high appears to be an outwork of the defences, although it has little or no real defensive qualities

The main gateway lies on the western side of the castle and is flanked by a pair of cylindrical towers; although the northern tower has collapsed, the southern tower survives to a height of 4.6m. A steep flight of stone steps leading down from the gateway, to the track at the bottom of the moat is a later addition. Opposite the gateway, the side of the moat is revetted with a 1.4m high stone wall which is the abutment of a drawbridge or footings of a defensive outwork. Beyond the gateway, a hollow way runs westward along the spine of the ridge for a distance of 100m; this hollow way is cut by the present trackway at its western end and indicates an earlier route leading to the castle across the drawbridge. An original postern gate may have been located at the north eastern corner of the castle where the later causeway crosses the moat. The most prominent structure within the castle enclosure is the central keep which is square in plan, with four cylindrical corner towers and survives to a height of about 5m; the 16th century mullioned windows are later alterations to the structure, which originally dates to around AD 1300. Although other internal buildings have been demolished, their foundations are visible as low earthworks and, in the 1900s, part excavations by the Marquis of Normanby revealed that most of the interior retained below ground remains of buildings. Some of the Marquis' excavation trenches were not infilled and are still visible, especially to the north of the keep. Old Mulgrave Castle was founded by Robert de Turnham, in about 1200, as the successor to an earlier motte and bailey castle, founded by Nigel Fossard, which lies 700m to the west. Although the castle was mentioned as 'ruinous' in 1309, the keep was certainly occupied in the 16th century when its mullioned windows were inserted. The old castle was still of sufficient strategic importance to warrant its assault and part demolition in 1647, during the Civil War. The present house known as Mulgrave Castle was built in 1735 on a new site 1km to the north east and, in 1792, the landscape gardener, Humphrey Repton, was appointed to draw up a series of proposals for laying out the environs of the house; the original 'Red Book' containing his designs survives and it recorded that he saw the potential of incorporating the ruins of the Old Castle into his landscape. Some alteration of the medieval structure, as noted above, will have been undertaken at that time, although Repton states that such interference was to be kept to a minimum. Photographs taken during the early 20th century show that the interior of the castle was still maintained as well tended grassland with benches laid out around the walls, showing that the ruins continued to be used for recreation. (Scheduling Report)

Keep and bailey walls with gatehouse. C12 add C13 with C16 alterations. Coursed squared stone. Gatehouse with twin half-round towers. Keep has 4 round angle towers, and inserted C16 stone mullioned-pad-transomed windows. In a ruinous condition. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

All rather flimsy and cement poor. Mentioned as ruinous in 1309. Slighted after Civil War siege and now very ruinous. The location, on a ridge between two fast flowing streams, is naturally strong although a number of similar sites are nearby and, it could be argued, a location on the coast at Sandsend is the 'military' better site. Gatehouse suspects always fundamentally a hunting lodge. Old Mulgrave Castle was maintained as a park feature for New Mulgrave Castle. Was there a similar relationship between the old mottte and bailey Foss Castle and the original Mulgrave castle?

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

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 ReferenceNZ839116
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Copyright Alan All Rights Reserved
Copyright Alan All Rights Reserved
Copyright Alan All Rights Reserved
Copyright Alan All Rights Reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved

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Primary Sources

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