About Helmsley Castle

Helmsley Castle was a large medieval fortress and mansion, the ruins of which are located in the town of Helmsley, Yorkshire. Initially built as a timber construction by the influential baron and military man Walter l’Espec in 1120, it was converted to stone by his nephew, Robert de Roos and further expanded over the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

Today, the remains of Helmsley Castle rise out of Yorkshire’s dramatic landscape, seemingly on a wave of ditches and banks, which would have served to increase its defensive capabilities. In fact, Helmsley Castle managed to endure a massive attack by the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War. The Royalists held Helmsley for a staggering three months, and the castle only fell when their food and supplies ran dry.

Following the Parliamentarian occupation of Helmsley Castle, its new owner, Sir Thomas Fairfax, chose to give it to his daughter and thus the site was spared destruction. The only parts of the castle which were removed were its defensive structures.

Managed by English Heritage, who also renovated it, Helmsley Castle is now open to the public, who can enjoy its grandeur and learn about its history via audio guides and exhibitions. There are several Civil War displays, looking at the castles military history and featuring an original cannonball.

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