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Richard's Sheriff Hutton

So one of Richard's castles was Sheriff Hutton, a rectangular motte and bailey castle near York. It had originally belonged to his father-in-law, the Earl of Warwick, Richard Neville. But Warwick the "King Maker" had helped Edward (Richard's brother) take the throne, and he thought he could do it a second time. So here's the skivvy— Edward married a commoner named Elizabeth Woodville and this upset a LOT of people, but no one more than Warwick. The new queen and he never got along, and eventually the wedge between he and Edward opened up and Warwick tried to put Edward's brother George on the throne. (See, I told you George was a bit of a fink.) They gave it up, got forgiven, then gave it another try. That's when Edward started losing his temper, although amazingly he doesn't have George executed for some time to come.

So what about Richard (our Richard) you're asking yourself. Well, he remained loyal to his brother. Fought the Scots when he was sent out to do it. Stayed by his brother's side when he was asked to do it. Didn't marry Anne when his brother didn't want him to, then finally DID marry Anne when his brother said it was okay. He was apparently smart, able, loyal, and kept his head down.

But what about the skeleton from the carpark? Right. So, they found Richard's body last year. (He was buried under a parking lot in Leicester.) Big hoopla because the DNA tests prove it was him. Now after he was dead a decade or so, people started saying that he'd been a crookback—a monster, but that's not what any of his portraits looked like. So it's always been a mystery. Did he or didn't he? It was settled last year by his skeleton. He had severe scoliosis of the spine. It apparently started when he was a teenager and got progressively worse throughout his life. Erin says they can tell he'd tried treatments that were essentially like being put on the rack. (Yikes!) Sitting down, you wouldn't have been able to see the curveture of his spine so much. But he was not able to stand completely upright. We know that he was in armor on a horse swinging a sword for large parts of his life, and the scientists looking at the bones say that he would have been in almost constant pain while he was doing that.

The Castle

In its hey-day the stone castle would have had between 300-400 people living and working in it. It was one of the domestic sites of the Council of the North, a group of the most powerful nobles in the north, meeting for the purpose of mutual defense and planning. The council continued to meet until the time of Elizabeth I. Richard and Anne would have come here frequently. Most notably when their only son died, they met his body here at Sheriff Hutton.

After Richard's death at Bosworth Field in 1485— (Oh come, come. That is NOT a spoiler. Surely you've looked him up on Wikipedia by now, and you know what happens)— right, so after Bosworth field, the castle passed to Henry Tudor, the new King of England. It was used for a bit longer, but was generally "let go," and as Bob, our guide from the Leeds Royal Armories says, "this is what happens when you let a castle go." So really, though it may have been a deterent to the Scots, the castle lived most of its life as a fairly peaceful residence. It had a large apple orchard near the gate, and the great gothic windows overlooked a forested hunting park and fields.

The English Heritage Foundation has pumped concrete between the two layers of the walls to replace the rubble which has settled over time. They've also reassembled bits of it that had fallen over. The current owner is very interested in its preservation, and came out to give us information about the modern history of the site.

Pretty Pics:

Click on the thumbnails to see a larger version and enter a slideshow of the larger versions:

Trail up to the Timber Castle Site
Trail up to the Timber Castle Site
Our guide had us plow off into underbrush at both castles. Here he's taking us to the original castle at Sheriff Hutton, which was timber. It's no longer there, but the site still is.
Timber Castle
Timber Castle
There were always more timber castles in England than there ever were stone ones, but they don't last. The church is in the upper right hand corner. We walked through the Glebe and the Kissing Gate. (Bob, the curator at the National Armory, kindly gave us all these maps he'd drawn.)
Clematis
Clematis
Because they reminded Erin of her Grandmother.
Kissing Gate
Kissing Gate
The kissing gate will let one human through at a time, but it keeps sheep from going through. You push it shut, squeeze into the triangular space on the left, then open the gate and squeeze out. If the person behind you pushes the gate while you are in there, it traps you. Hence the name— the idea being that naughty boys could trap girls to kiss.
Sheriff Hutton Castle
Sheriff Hutton Castle
During the time of the Neville's and Richard III, there were five manor houses in Sheriff Hutton, in addition to the imposing castle.
Moat
Moat
The flat green stuff at the bottom of the screen is algae covered water. Notice what a steep motte (raised hill) this is.
Rectangle Castle
Rectangle Castle
These are a lot rarer in England. The stone castle was built on its own mott, a little distance away from the Timber castle. So we know the timber castle was used from at least 1136(?) when it was captured for King Stephen, to 1382 when they finished the stone one.
How the mighty have fallen
How the mighty have fallen
The sheep farmers who've had this land for the last several hundred years, built their barns and house butting up against the parts of the castle still standing.
Tractor in the Castle
Tractor in the Castle
The village of Sheriff Hutton received a grant to have regular fairs on their green, but it was revoked because of "riotous behavior." As it is a tiny place in the Yorkshire Dales, one wonders how riotous it got.
Vault under the Tower
Vault under the Tower
This had to be dug out to shore up the tower some years ago, but the farmers had been dumping trash into it for 150 years. The conservation crew had to wear hazmat outfits to get it all out.
The Owner
The Owner
Richard, the owner, came out of the house and started talking to us about the conservation efforts and the history of the family farm on the site of the castle.
In Richard's Time
In Richard's Time
Richard III and Queen Anne would have come to Sheriff Hutton castle quite a bit. It is close to York, and was a safe haven. It was also used to keep family enemies "safe." Richard sent his niece Elizabeth here in 1485. She and her sisters were allowed to walk the grounds as far as a tall old tree that people called "the Warwick Tree."
Erin at the Town Gate
Erin at the Main Gate
This would have been the gate that faced the town. Notice the heraldry above the door?
Neville Family Arms
Neville Family Arms
The four round shields over the door are the four generations of Neville's that had the castle. The one on the right is Anne Neville's father, Richard Neville the Earl of Warwick—the one who helped put Edward on the throne, the one they call "Warwick the King Maker."
A castle of many windows
A castle of many windows
Although it was certainly built to be a military force, this castle spent most of its days as a place of meeting and culture. It was one of the sites of the council of the North for 150 years.
Gothic Windows
Gothic Windows
You can still see the beautiul shape of the top windows.
Vault under a tower
Vault under a tower
So one of the old farmers just lived in here all his life. It has a fireplace, and was dry and warm. Now it is filled with firewood and old farm equipment.
View from the vault window
View from the vault window
This is an amazing view, from what is essentially a partially buried vault. The upper story views must have been really spectacular.
The inner court
The inner court
The inner court of Sheriff Hutton is really impressively large. You could ride a horse around in it.
The Dales
The Dales
For anyone whose read the James Herriott books (All Things Great and Small), these are the Yorkshire Dales he writes about. They are still dotted with small farms, sheep, and cattle.