In 2016 we made a few trips to Yorkshire, mainly to Harrogate, but we did visit a few places and drove across some of the moors. I am sorting through some photos and realised I forgot to post a visit to Spofforth Castle. This castle was a lovely surprise, we were just driving past what looked like a large grassy field, when I noticed a ruin on the far side of it. Stop……and stop my dear patient husband did. It was March, grey and cold, and there was a big padlock on a gate, with a notice from English Heritage saying the castle wasn’t open until the spring. Really, there were people walking in the field and I noticed that there was another gate that they had used, there were also people at the ruins. So on we went to explore, well we had come a long way……
Spofforth was owned by the Percys, one of the most powerful Norman families in Northern England. The first William de Percy who died about 1096, was a favoured companion of William the Conqueror and received large estates in Yorkshire. Spofforth, originally an Anglo-Saxon manor, was among these. and de Percy made it his family home.
Henry Percy, first Lord Percy 1273 – 1314, was one of Edward I’s leading commanders and was actively involved in the kings Scottish wars. Percy’s successes brought him estates and influence in the north. He extended his family house at Spofforth, but soon afterwards, in 1309, he bought Alnwick Castle in Northumberland from the bishop of Durham. The family’s power base moved north.
During the early 15th century, Spofforth was partly remodelled, probably by the second earl of Northumberland, Henry Percy 1394-1455. Damaged shortly afterwards, by the 16th century it was largely in ruins.
One interesting little thing that I have found out after our visit, the castle is apparently haunted, by half a ghost, a female person throws herself of the castle ramparts, but only the top half, the bottom stays in what ever realm she has come from. I must admit I didn’t go up some stairs that were covered over, husband had moved on, so did I, I just didn’t like the idea of going on my own, it just felt so cold. I am sure it was just the weather, but who knows…….