Sheriff Hutton Castle

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle, and also as a Certain Palace (Royal)

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameSheriff Hutton Castle
Alternative NamesShirehuton; Shirhuton; Shirifwottes; Shirefhoton; Sherry-Hutton; Castle Ile
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishSheriff Hutton

standing, buried and earthwork remains of a late 14th century quadrangular castle and associated features including the earthworks of a 16th century garden. It is prominently located on the southern side of Sheriff Hutton, overlooking the Vale of York. John Lord Neville of Raby was granted a licence to build a stone castle in 1382 by Richard II. It is thought that this replaced the earlier earthen ringwork castle, which lies adjacent to the church 0.5km to the east, and is the subject of a separate scheduling. From the mid-15th century, Sheriff Hutton was held by Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, known as 'Warwick the Kingmaker'. He used Sheriff Hutton, along with Middleham castle, as his principal bases in the north of England. After his death in 1471 at the Battle of Barnet, Sheriff Hutton was seized by the crown and granted to Richard Duke of Gloucester who became Richard III in 1483. From circa 1489 the castle periodically hosted the Council of the North and in 1525 was granted by Henry VIII to his illigitimate son Henry Fitzroy, the Duke of Richmond and Warden-General of the Marches. Used as a seat of provincial government, at this time the castle had a staff of 142 in addition to the 100 servants in the Duke's retinue. A survey of the state of the castle found that extensive repairs were required, but by 1534 John Leyland wrote that there was 'no house in the North so like a princely lodgings'. These two documentary sources describe how the castle was formed by three courts or wards. The inner court included the hall, kitchen and the lord's stately lodgings including a chapel. The middle court was described as being protected by three great towers, the middle tower forming a gatehouse, but in 1525 this court required extensive repairs to its walls, a section of which over 20m long had collapsed. The outer court included a brewhouse, horse mills, stables and barns

A further series of repairs were made in 1537 when the castle was returned to Henry VIII following Fitzroy's death. Shortly afterwards, the Council of the North was moved to York and apart from a further campaign of repairs in 1573-75, the castle was allowed to decay, with the deliberate removal of roofing lead towards the end of the century. In 1618-19 James I sold the 'ruinous castle of Sheriff Hutton' to Thomas Lumsden. In 1621 it was bought by Sir Aurthur Ingram, in whose family it remained until the early 20th century, being used principally as a source of building materials. The castle is thought to have been too ruinous to have played any part in the English Civil War and was not included in the 1649 Parliamentarian survey of castles. There is a 1721 illustration of the north side of the castle and its layout is shown on plans of the village dated 1765 and 1786. A discussion of the various documentary and pictorial records of the monument forms part of a 1997 survey report by Ed Dennison which also describes in detail the surviving standing and earthwork remains of the monument. The monument is dominated by the four ruined towers of the castle's inner court, set at the western end of a natural ridge that stands over 9m above the land to the west and south. In design the inner court is very similar to Bolton Castle in Wensleydale which was built in 1379-1396. Parts of the curtain walls, which linked the four corner towers and include evidence of the integral building ranges and undercrofts inside them, also survive. Overall the inner court measures 66m by just over 52m externally, its long axis orientated NNW to SSE, although the castle is conventionally described as if it were aligned north-south. Adjacent to the south eastern tower, forming part of the eastern curtain wall, is the gatehouse which led out into the middle court. This is thought to have been an early 15th century addition to the castle and retains a frieze of four heraldic shields dated after 1402. This gatehouse is one of the features which suggests that the castle was designed as a high prestige residence with considerations of the display of wealth and power taking precedence over the needs of defence. The gatehouse has no provision for a portcullis and could be circumvented by a ground floor doorway through the southern curtain wall. The south western tower has the best views over the Vale of York and is thought to have included the high-status accommodation. It was divided into four floors with barrel- vaulted basement, ground floor rooms and well lit first and second floors approximately 6m and 5m high respectively. Each floor had windows in the southern and western walls, (the castle's external face), and where the moulding survives, appear to have been typically trefoil headed, often with twin lights. The other three corner towers are similar in design except that in place of the two high roofed upper floors there are three less lofty storeys. There is evidence that ground level chambers within the curtain walls also had windows facing out of the castle and it is possible that the doorway through the southern curtain wall was mirrored on the northern and western walls as well. On the 1765 map of Sheriff Hutton, the inner court was labelled Far Wards. Adjoining it to the east, there is a second walled enclosure depicted, which was labelled Fore Wards. This was also approximately quadrangular, but slightly larger than the inner court, occupying the same area as the farm buildings for the existing Castle Farm. This court is thought to have been for lower status accommodation, and probably included servants quarters and guard barracks as well as some auxiliary rooms such as stores. Buried evidence for these structures will survive beneath and around the existing buildings. The outer court is recorded as having a number of auxiliary buildings such as stables and a brewhouse, and is believed to have occupied the area between the middle court and the medieval market place to the east, which now survives as a village green. The area to the north and east of Castle Farm's farmhouse retains a number of low earthworks, some of which are interpreted as the buried remains of features in the outer court. The castle is a Listed Building Grade II-star To the south and west of the castle there are extensive earthwork remains of an impressive landscaped garden which is believed to have been created for Henry Fitzroy in the early 16th century. Part of this is a long carriage way that approaches the castle from the south west, runs along a raised causeway between two long, parallel, water-filled ornamental canals past the south side of the castle, to finally approach the east side of the middle court via a curving trackway up the hillside from the south east. The central part of the northern canal is thought to have been adapted from an earlier moat ditch which extends around the western and northern sides of the inner court. Between the canal and the slope up to the middle court there are two depressions which are thought to be smaller ornamental ponds, and are possibly also adapted from the earlier moat. To the west of the inner court, beyond the moat, there are low earthworks that are interpreted as the remains of medieval properties fronting onto Finkle Street which would have been inhabited by villagers. These are thought to have been cleared for the construction of the castle. Immediately to the south there is an open area which retains faint ridge and furrow, left by the medieval system of ploughing, suggesting that the castle also took in part of the village's open field system. Further ridge and furrow extends to the south of the southern ornamental canal where it is much more pronounced. This well- preserved block of the medieval open field system is also included within the monument and lies in a much larger area which formed a deer park attached to the castle, using the southern canal as part of its boundary. The area represents a complete furlong with header banks at both the north and south ends of the field. (Scheduling Report)

Licence to crenellate granted to John, Lord Neville in 1382. Leland wrote 'I saw no house in the north so much like the palace of a prince.'

Systematical robbed of its fixtures, fitting, timbers and fine stone it shared the fate of most castles and its "gates were more likely stolen than stormed" (Richardson, 2009).

Gatehouse Comments

Privately owned and access to the interior by prior arrangement only but a public footpath around the castle gives good views of the castle and the extensive garden earthworks. Sheriff Hutton Castle has an important place in English history with its associations with Warwick the Kingmaker and Richard III, and its use as a seat of provincial government via the Council of the North up until 1537. Used as a palace for Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, the acknowledged bastard son of Henry VIII, during his childhood.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2* 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 ReferenceSE651662
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
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
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

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print


  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 329-31, 330, 373, 438
  • Hislop, M., 2007, John Lewyn of Durham: a medieval mason in practice (Oxford: John and Erica Hedges: British Archaeological Reports British Series 438)
  • < >Dennison, E. (ed), 2005, Within the pale: the story of Sheriff Hutton Park (by the Sheriff Hutton Women's Institute Community Pale Project) (York: William Sessions) (esp chap 'The Second Sheriff Hutton Castle' p. 96-121) < >
  • Turner, Maurice, 2004, Yorkshire Castles: Exploring Historic Yorkshire (Otley: Westbury Publishing) passim
  • Jackson, M.J., 2001, Castles of North Yorkshire (Carlisle) p. 70-74 (plan)
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 90-1
  • Ingham, Bernard, 2001, Bernard Ingham's Yorkshire Castles (Dalesman) p. 86-7
  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 390
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 298-9
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 525
  • Ryder, P.F., 1982 (paperback edn 1992), The Medieval Buildings of Yorkshire (Ash Grove Book) p. 87-107
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 297
  • Colvin, H.M., Ransome, D.R. and Summerson, John, 1975, The history of the King's Works Vol. 3: 1485-1660 (part 1) (London) p. 293-5
  • Pevsner, N., 1966, Buildings of England: Yorkshire: North Riding (London) p. 339-40
  • Illingworth, J.L., 1938 (republished 1970), Yorkshire's Ruined Castles (Wakefield) p. 142-3
  • Calthrp, C., 1923, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Yorkshire: North Riding Vol. 2 p. 174-76 online transcription
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 259-61 online copy
  • Wheater, W., 1884, Historic Mansions of Yorkshire Vol. 1 p. 214-32
  • Tempest, S., 1875, The History of Sheriff Hutton and District
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 211, 419 online copy
  • Grainge, W., 1855, Castles and Abbeys of Yorkshire p. 237-42 online copy
  • Gill, Thomas, 1852, Vallis Eboracumenses p. 426
  • Todd, G., 1824, Castellum Huttonicum, Some Account of Sheriff Hutton Castle (York)
  • Bigland, J., 1812, Beauties of England and Wales Vol. 16 p. 248-50
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 2 p. 343


  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 543, 550
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 65-6 online copy


  • Richardson, Shaun and Dennison, Ed, 2010, 'Recent work by Ed Dennison Archaeological Services Ltd' CBA Forum (newsletter for CBA Yorkshire) p.19-50
  • Richardson, Shaun and Dennison, Ed, 2008-9, 'Architectural and Archaeological survey of the North-east Tower of Sheriff Hutton Castle' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 22 p. 179-200 (extensive report)
  • Speight, Sarah, 2008, 'Castles as Past Culture: Living with Castles in the Post-Medieval World' Cha^teau Gaillard Vol. 23 p. 385-94 (slight)
  • Richardson, Shaun and Dennison, Ed, 2007-8, 'The Castles of Sheriff Hutton' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 21 p. 172-88
  • 2002-3, 'Sheriff Hutton Castle' Castle Studies Group Newsletter Vol. 16 p. 32-3 (news report)
  • Dennison, E., 1998, 'Recent Work at Sheriff Hutton' CBA Forum (newsletter of CBA Yorkshire) p. 7-12
  • Dennison, E., 1997, 'Sheriff Hutton Castle' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 154 p. 291-6
  • Coulson, Charles, 1993 Aug, 'Specimens of Freedom to Crenellate by Licence' Fortress: The castles and fortifications quarterly Vol. 18 p. 3-15
  • 1934, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 91 p. 390 online copy
  • 1893, Journal of the Society of Antiquaries Vol. 28 p. 9-11
  • Pritchett, J.P., 1887, 'Works of the Nevilles' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 43 p. 229-31 (plan) online copy

Guide Books

  • Howarth, Richard W., 1993, Some notes on the Castle at Sheriff Hutton

Primary Sources


  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk Yorkshire Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 51 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 Yorkshire (London: English Heritage) p. 59 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 Yorkshire (London: English Heritage) p. 60 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 80 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 75 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 80 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 89 online copy
  • Richardson, Shaun, 16 May 2009, 'Sheriff Hutton Castle and its designed Landscape' Castles, Landscapes and Lordship: Aspects of Castle Studies (Royal Archaeological Institute/Yorkshire Archaeological Society Medieval Section Conference at York)
  • Richardson, Shaun and Dennison, Ed, 2008, Sheriff Hutton Castle, Sheriff Hutton, North Yorkshire: Architectural and Archaeological Survey of the North East Tower (2 vols) (Ed Dennison Archaeological Services report 2002/158.R01 for English Heritage and Dr R Howarth)
  • GSB Prospection Ltd, 2006, Sheriff Hutton: The Second Castle and Gardens (GSB report 2006/02 for Ed Dennison Archaeological Services Ltd)
  • GSB Prospection Ltd, 2004, Sheriff Hutton, North Yorkshire (GSB report 2004/89 for Ed Dennison Archaeological Services Ltd)
  • Humble, E., 2003. Yorkshire courtyard castles and social identities c 1360 - 1420: ambitions and anxieties (University of York)
  • Field Archaeology Specialists Ltd, 2003, Conservation Plan: Sheriff Hutton Castle, North Yorkshire (FAS report for Dr R. Howarth)
  • English Heritage, 29/01/2002, Sherriff Hutton quadrangular castle and early garden earthworks
  • Dennison, E., 1996, Sheriff Hutton Castle, North Yorkshire: An Architectural and Archaeological Survey (Ed Dennison Archaeological Services report 1996/10R.01 for English Heritage and Dr R Howarth)
  • Winton, H., 1993, Sheriff Hutton Project (National Monuments Record Centre) (Aerial photographical Interpreation Report)
  • McCavana, Kate, 1993, Sheriff Hutton Castle: An Archaeological Survey of the South West Tower and South Range (University of York)