Sunday, August 21, 2016

Castle Howard before Castle Howard: medieval Hinderskelf

Castle Howard before Castle Howard: medieval Hinderskelf

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

On 23rd April 1692 Edward Howard, 2nd Earl of Carlisle, died and was succeed by his son Charles Howard. In 1689 Charles Howard was M.P. for Morpeth and from 1693 to 1738 he was governor of Carlisle. From 1701 to 1706 Charles Howard was Deputy Earl Marshal and in December 1701 was made First Lord of the Treasury. His position at the top of the political establishment was a brief six months. 

But before his rise to power the 3rd Earl of Carlisle decided to build a large country house for himself in Yorkshire. After losing his political power the building of the house, by architect Sir John Vanbrugh, took on an importance of personal standing. This house is today known by the name of Castle Howard, one of the largest country houses in the land. To build the house the medieval castle and village of Hinderskelf was removed.[1] This article sets out to capture some information on medieval Hinderskelf.  

Domesday and early accounts

The Hinderskelf appears to be a Viking place-name meaning a woman’s seat or settlement. Other sources say that Hinderskelf means meeting place of the hundred on a hill. In the time of King Edward the Confessor Hinderskelf was held by Torbrant. In 1070 King Malcolm of Scotland invaded England by way of Cumberland. At Hinderskelf he killed some English nobles and after returned to Scotland.[2]

It is briefly mentioned in the Domesday Book but was possibly a rural farm settlement at the time. In 1086 Hinderskelf was in the hands of Berengar de Toni, who had a 'manor'. The manor consisted of 4 carucates and three rent payers. Berengar de Toni died without issue, and his lands it seems passed to his sister Adeliza and her husband Roger Bigod, the ancestor of the Earls of Norfolk. The Earls of Norfolk were the chief lords of Hinderskelf until 1306 when the manor became directly held of the king.[3]

From 1087 to 1102 Sir Humphrey de Lascelles is said to have held the castle and manor of Hinderskelf. He is reportedly to have died there in 1102.[4] This assertion has not been confirmed by other sources.

In about 1160 the priory of Kirkham was founded and the lord of Hinderskelf gave a site to the priory for a church at Hinderskelf. According to Time Team the village of Hinderskelf was possibly founded around that time.[5] The church at Hinderskelf was a chapel rather than a parish church as Hinderskelf was only one part of the large parish of Bulmer of which the church of St. Martin at Bulmer was the head church. In 1219 Simon son of William quitclaimed two ox-gangs of land in Hinderskelf to William, Prior of Kirkham.[6]

In 1166–7 Peter Basset held Hinderskelf from the Bigod family and in 1207 Walter Basset granted 2 ox-gangs at Hinderskelf to Reginald Basset.[7] In about 1234 William Mauleverer held lands at Hinderskelf and Scoreby in Yorkshire. At some unknown date William Mauleverer had granted some land there to Brian de Lisle for a certain time which by 1234 had not yet expired. The lands were taken into the King’s hand by the death of Brian de Lisle. On 17th September 1234 the sheriff of Yorkshire was instructed to deliver full seisin to William Mauleverer.[8] In about 1251 Margarey, widow of William Mauleverer conveyed the lands of Hinderskelf to William son of Ralph.[9]

Fitz William family of Hinderskelf

In about 1269 Sir William Fitz Ralph was described as lord of Grimthorpe and Hinderskelf in Yorkshire. He was the son and heir of Ralph Fitz William, lord of Grimthorpe, who in turn was the son of William Fitz Ralph (died 1218) and grandson of Ralph Fitz Ralph, lord of Grimthorpe (living 1189). Sir William Fitz Ralph married Joan, daughter of Sir Thomas Fitz William of Greystokes in Cumberland. In 1296 Sir William Fitz Ralph was succeeded by his son and heir Sir Ralph FitzWilliam as lord of Grimthorpe and Hinderskelf and was known since 1295 as Lord FitzWilliam. In 1306 Sir Ralph FitzWilliam succeeded to the estate of Greystoke and died in 1317.[10]

Sir Ralph Fitz William was succeeded for two months by his second son Robert Fitz Ralph who died before 15th April 1317. Robert’s widow, Elizabeth, took seisin of the manors of Hinderskelf and Butterwick as her dower and died in November 1346.[11]

In April 1317 Ralph de Greystoke succeeded his father Robert Fitz Ralph as lord of Greystoke in Cumberland and took the place-name as his surname. Ralph de Greystoke married Alice, daughter of Hugh, Lord Audley by Iseude, daughter of Sir Edmund de Mortimer of Wigmore. Ralph de Greystoke was poisoned at Gateshead in 1323 and so never succeeded to Hinderskelf.[12]

In 1323 Sir William de Greystoke succeeded his father as Lord Greystokes and FitzWilliam. On 20th August 1347 the King took the homage of Sir William de Greystoke for Hinderskelf. Sir William de Greystoke fought in the wars in Scotland and France before dying on 10th July 1359 at Brancepeth.[13]

A native of Hinderskelf

In this time of great lords and great plagues we often don’t get to see the common folk but in 1346 a native of Hinderskelf appeared briefly in the records. In 1346 Simon Wavel of Hinderskelf along with John Dalby of Brompton and John and Robert Geffray of Yolvirtoft in Yorkshire received a pardon for their good service in the war in France as long as they stayed at peace in England.[14]

Greystoke coat of arms

William, Baron of Greystoke

William, Baron of Greystoke, died in 1359 while overseas and was succeeded by his son, Ralph, a minor. The Greystoke estate was taken into the King’s hand and was granted during the minority to Roger de Mortimer, Earl of March. But Roger de Mortimer didn’t enjoy the estate for long as he died in February 1360 to be succeeded by his son, Edmund de Mortimer, a minor.

Because of this minority the escheator of Yorkshire and Greystoke took the Greystoke lands back into the king’s hand due to the minority of Edmund de Mortimer. In November 1363 the escheator of Yorkshire and Cumberland was ordered to deliver parts of the Greystoke estate to the executors of Roger de Mortimer. As part of the transfer there was a messuage and five bovates of land at Hinderskelf held for life by William Cook, deceased.[15]  

In same month of November 1363 Joan, the widow of William, Baron of Greystoke, received knight’s fees and part of fees as part of her dower estate. At Hinderskelf she received the eight part of one fee held by Roger Brett (worth 34s), the twenty-sixth part of one fee held by Roger son of Nicholas (worth 14s), and the fifty second part of one fee held by John Jackson (worth 9s).[16]  
An inquisition into the Greystoke estate (taken in June 1376) at the coming of age of Ralph found that the family held a messuage and six bovates of land at Hinderskelf. This property was held from Greystoke by the heirs of Roger Brett by the service of a fourteenth part of a knight’s fee. Also at Hinderskelf the Greystokes had a messuage and one bovate of land held by John Jackson by the service of a fiftieth part of a knight’s fee.[17]

Roger of Hinderskelf
On 2nd June 1363 Roger son of Nicholas Hinderskelf died. Roger held land at Hinderskelf from William, Baron of Greystoke. Normally Baron Greystoke would collect the death dues and approve of the heir and we would never see the affairs of Roger. But at that time the Greystoke estate was in the hands of the King because William’s heir was a minor. At an inquisition at Malton on 14th March 1364 found that Roger held a messuage and two bovates of land. Roger was succeeded by his kinswoman, Christiana (aged about 40 years), daughter of Robert of Hinderskelf.[18]

Ralph de Greystoke

William de Greystoke was succeeded by his son, Ralph de Greystoke, by his second wife, Joan, daughter of Sir Henry Fitz Henry of Ravensworth. On 19th May 1374 Ralph de Greystoke took livery of his father’s lands. Ralph de Greystoke served in the army of Richard II and held numerous government appointments. In 1399 he agreed to the imprisonment of Richard II and died on 6th April 1418.[19] On 27th April 1418 it was found by inquisition post mortem that Ralph de Greystoke held the manor of Hinderskelf in Yorkshire of the king of the honour of Chester by the service of carrying a sword in the presence of the Earl of Chester. The manor was then valued at fifteen pounds.[20]

Sir John de Greystoke

Sir Ralph de Greystoke was succeeded by his son, Sir John de Greystoke, by his wife Katherine, daughter of Roger de Clifford by Maud, daughter of Thomas de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. Sir John de Greystoke, Lord Greystoke and Lord FitzWilliam, served four years as constable of Roxborough Castle and was on a commission to make a truce with Scotland. He married Elizabeth, daughter and co-heir of Sir Robert de Ferrers by Joan de Beaufort, daughter of John, Duke of Lancaster. On 8th August 1436 John de Greystoke died leaving four sons and one daughter.[21] 

Hinderskelf in 1436

In the earlier records of Hinderskelf we don’t get a clear picture of the place and its landscape. The inquisition post mortem following the death of John de Greystoke gives us therefore a rare view into medieval Hinderskelf. In 1436 there was a hall with four chambers at Hinderskelf along with a cook house, four granges, a brew house and two stables which were worth nothing. It seems from this that the manor house was in ruins or in poor repair. The dovecot and orchard were worth 6s 8d each. The common oven was worth 3s 4d while the watermill for corn was worth 12s 4d. There was 12 messages worth 24s yearly, and 4 cottages worth 3s 8d. Around Hinderskelf there was 27 bovates of land (worth 66s 8d), a park of 60 acres and 40 acres of wood (worth 20s), with another wood of 80 acres (worth 33s 4d). The manor also had 2 acres of meadow at Fryton (worth 2s) along with a messuage and some bovates of land at Ampleforth (worth 5s).

Among the rents and services at Hinderskelf there was 5s service rent from John Wyuell for 2 messuages and 5 bovates of land at Slingsby and a fixed rosary from William Hollthorp for a messuage and lands in the same place. A person called Hastings, a knight, paid 14d service rent for a messuage and 2 bovates at Colton.[22] This could be a descendent of Sir Nicholas de Hastings who in the time of King Edward III received a grant of Thorp Bassett from Lord Greystoke of Hinderskelf.[23]

Sir Ralph de Greystoke

In November 1436 Sir Ralph de Greystoke succeeded to the Greystoke estate including Hinderskelf. He supported the Lancastrian cause in the War of the Roses but was sometimes suspect in his loyalties. Sir Ralph married firstly, be papal dispensation, Elizabeth or Isabel, daughter of William FitzHugh by Margery, daughter of Sir William de Willoughby. Shortly after 20th September 1483 Sir Ralph married secondly, in the chapel at Hinderskelf by the parish chapel, Beatrice, sister of Richard Hawclyf.

The marriage licence of the Archbishop of York described the chapel as within the manor house at Hinderskelf.[24] When Time Team did their excavations at Hinderskelf (Castle Howard) in 2003 they made strong efforts to locate the church at Hinderskelf. They examined a number of old maps which seemed to show the church as a separate building to the manor house. Possibly there could have been a private chapel within the manor house and a public church nearby – another possibly to add to the many possibilities and probabilities which Sir Tony Robinson listed in the programme for the location of Hinderskelf.[25]   

On 1st June 1487 Sir Ralph de Greystoke died and was buried at Kirkham priory,[26] Sir Ralph de Greystoke was predeceased by his son Sir Robert de Greystoke (died June 1483) and was thus succeeded at Hinderskelf by Elizabeth (born 1471). Elizabeth married Thomas Dacre, 2nd Baron Dacre of Gilsland. In August 1516 Elizabeth died when Hinderskelf and the Baronies of Greystoke and FitzWilliam devolved to her son William Dacre.[27]

Dacre family inheritance of Hinderskelf

William Dacre was the only son and heir. He held a number of government positions in the north until accused of treason in 1534 and spent sometime in the Tower until acquitted. In January 1539 William Dacre wrote to Thomas Cromwell enclosing the money his owed the King and that he was staying at Hinderskelf if needed.[28] While at Hinderskelf William Dacre may have rebuilt the castle as a square structure with four towers as described by the antiquarian John Leland.[29]

In 1544 William Dacre maintained one hundred men for the king’s army at Hinderskelf.[30] In time William Dacre was restored to standing and was one of the twelve mourners at the funeral of Henry VIII. William Dacre went on to serve under the three children of Henry VIII until his death in 1563.[31]
William Dacre was succeeded by his son Thomas Dacre who became Lord Dacre of Gilsland and Greystoke. Thomas Dacre married firstly Elizabeth, daughter of Ralph Neville, 4th Earl of Westmoreland, and secondly married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir James Leyburne and died in July 1566 leaving one son and three daughters.

George Dacre succeeded his father but only enjoyed his inheritance for three years as he died in May 1569 leaving his sisters as his heirs. Meanwhile in 1566 the second wife of Thomas Dacre married as his third wife Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. In June 1569 Thomas Howard contracted the three sisters of George Dacre to his three sons which speed was good as the Duke was beheaded in 1572.[32]  

The eldest sister, Anne married in 1571 Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel, and brought the manor of Greystoke to her husband. The second sister, Mary, was contracted to Thomas Howard, later Earl of Suffolk, but died before the wedding. The youngest sister, Elizabeth married Lord William Howard and took the manors of Naworth and Hinderskelf to her husband.[33]

Castle Howard with medieval Hinderskelf to the right

The Howard inheritance of Hinderskelf

William Howard was youngest son of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, and was known as ‘Belted Will’. He became lord of Naworth castle in Cumberland and inherited the manor of Hinderskelf from his wife. William Howard was succeeded by his son Sir Philip Howard who was the father of Sir William Howard of Naworth. This Sir William Howard married Mary, daughter of William Evers, Baron Evers, and was the father of his second son, Charles Howard, who in 1661 was created Baron Dacre of Gillesland, Viscount Howard of Morpeth and 1st Earl of Carlisle. The 1st Earl died on 24th February 1685 at Hinderskelf, where the castle was recently rebuilt (1363) and was buried at York Minster. Like in previous generations Hinderskelf was assigned a dower land to Anne, Countess Dowager of Carlisle.[34] 

Within twenty years his grandson removed medieval Hinderskelf to make way for Castle Howard. Some writers say the ancient castle of Hinderskelf was burnt down by accident in 1693 or maybe it was arranged for it to be destroyed beyond repair. On 31st October 1698 the third Earl took a life lease on Hinderskelf from his grandmother.[35] The excavations by Time Team have showed that the destruction of the village, church and old castle of Hinderskelf was not immediate. Some villagers lived at Hinderskelf up to about 1720 although maybe not exactly on the site of the old village. There was about twenty small houses at Hinderskelf in its last days.[36]


See the Time Team excavations at Castle Howard in 2003 in a search for Hinderskelf at


End of post


[1] George E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage (Alan Sutton, 1987), vol. III, p. 35
[2] Rev. W. Eastmead, Historia rievallensis: containing the history of Kirby Moorside (London, 1824), p. 365
[8] Paul Dryburgh & Beth Hartland (eds.), Calendar of the Fine Rolls of the reign of Henry III, Volume II, 9 to 18 Henry III, 1224-1234 (Boydell Press & National Archives, 2008), no. 18/353
[10] George E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, vol. V, p. 513, 515, 516
[11] George E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, vol. V, p. 517
[12] George E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, vol. VI, p. 190
[13] George E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, vol. VI, p. 192
[14] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III, 1345-1348, p. 499
[15] Calendar of Close Rolls, Edward III, 1360-1364, p. 505
[16] Calendar of Close Rolls, Edward III, 1360-1364, p. 500
[17] A.E. Stamp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Vol. XIV (Stationery Office, London, 1952), no. 32
[18] M.C.B. Dawes (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Vol. XI (Stationery Office, London, 1935), no. 465
[19] George E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, vol. VI, pp. 195, 196
[20] J.L. Kirby & Janet H. Stevenson (eds.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Vol. XXI, 6 to 10 Henry V, 1418-1422 (Boydell Press & National Archives, 2002), no. 112
[21] George E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, vol. VI, pp. 196, 197
[22] M.L. Holford, S.A. Mileson, C.V. Noble & Kate Parkin (eds.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Vol. XXIV, 11 to 15 Henry VI, 1432-1437 (Boydell Press & National Archives, 2010), no. 499
[23] Rev. W. Eastmead, Historia rievallensis: containing the history of Kirby Moorside, p. 242
[24] George E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, vol. VI, pp. 197, 198
[26] George E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, vol. VI, p. 198
[27] George E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, vol. VI, pp. 199, 200
[31] George E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, vol. IV, pp. 21, 22
[32] George E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, vol. IV, pp. 23
[33] George E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, vol. IV, p. 24, note (e)
[34] George E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, vol. III, pp. 33, 34; accessed on 20 August 2016; Charles S. Smith, The Building of Castle Howard (Pimlico, London, 1997), p. 8
[35] Rev. W. Eastmead, Historia rievallensis: containing the history of Kirby Moorside, p. 366; accessed on 20 August 2016; Charles S. Smith, The Building of Castle Howard, p. 8
[36] accessed on 20 August 2016; Charles S. Smith, The Building of Castle Howard, p. 8

No comments:

Post a Comment