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Middleham, North Riding of Yorkshire

Historical Description

Middleham, a town, a township, and a parish in N.R. Yorkshire. The town stands on the slope of an eminence, half a mile S of the river Ure, and under Middleham Moor, 1½ mile SSE of Leyburn railway station; was once a market-town, and has a post, money order, and telegraph office (R.S.O.), and fairs on 30 March, and for cattle, horses, and sheep, on the 5, 6, and 7 Nov. It is connected with Leybum by means of a bridge over the river Ure. The parish comprises 2119 acres of land and 35 of water; population, 732. The manor belonged to Kilpatrick the Dane; went, after the Conquest, to Robert Fitz-Ranulph, grandson to Ribald, who came over with the Conqueror; passed, in the 13th century, to the Nevilles, and belongs now to Lord Masbam. A great castle was founded on a commanding site above the town by Robert Fitz-Ranulph; was much enlarged by Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmorland, the betrayer of Archbishop Scroop, and a prominent character in Shakespeare's " King Henry IV.;" made a great figure in the time of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, the " king-maker;" gave frequent entertainment, eventually of a hostile kind, under the "kingmaker," to Edward IV.; figures as the place of some of the finest scenes of Lord Lytton's " Last of the Barons;" passed, after the " king-maker's " death, to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, afterwards Richard III.; was often inhabited by him, and was the birthplace of his only son; was dismantled by order of Parliament in 1646, and is now a desolate, extensive, imposing, and picturesque ruin. The central part of it, changed by repairs, is the original structure of Fitz-Ranulph, and an enclosing quadrangle, 210 feet by 175, with towers at the angles, was the work of the Nevilles. A moat surrounded the pile and is still partially traceable. The central keep has walls of great thickness and is a good specimen of the Norman architecture of the close of the 12th century. The great hall and the chapel within the original building have left interesting remains, and the arch over the staircase leading to the great hall is a striking object. A very fine gold ring, which may have belonged to one of the Plantagenets, was found not many years ago among the ruins. Horses are broken in and trained for racing on Middleham Moor, and the large horse fair in Nov. is held upon it. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Ripon; net value, £300 with residence. Patron, the Bishop. The church is of the latter part of the 15th century; was made collegiate by Richard III. for a dean, sub-dean, and six canons, but ceased to be so in 1856; has an embattled tower and an old stained glass E window representing the martyrdom of St Alkelda, and contains a curious ancient tombstone, probably brought from Jervaux Abbey. The building was restored and reseated in 1878. There are Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist chapels, and a reading-room.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyYorkshire 
Ecclesiastical parishMiddleham St. Mary and St. Alkeld 
Poor Law unionLeyburn 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

Findmypast, in conjunction with various Archives, Local Studies, and Family History Societies have the following parish records online for Middleham:


Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Middleham from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for the North Riding of Yorkshire is available to browse.


Online maps of Middleham are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following North Riding newspapers online:

CountyNorth Yorkshire
RegionYorkshire and the Humber
Postal districtDL8