Image credit: Jeff Allsopp
Middleham is a lovely charming market town in North Yorkshire that was once the childhood home of Richard III. It lies within Wensleydale and has the largest castle keep in North England. Middleham is twinned with Azincourt in France.
The market town of Middleham is well equipped and has almost everything it’s residents could need. There’s a nursery and primary school for education, a village shop, four pubs, a fish and chip shop, and a tea room. Middleham also has a community centre, two market squares, and is home to many B&B’s to allow tourists to come and visit.
Things to do in Middleham
Despite there not being many tourist attractions, what Middleham does have on offer is well worth a visit for the whole family.
The Forbidden Corner
This four acre garden is located in Tupgill Park. It was once a private folly before being opened to the public to enjoy. The Forbidden Corner is often described as a labyrinth full of tunnels, chambers, puzzles, and surprises that both adults and children will enjoy. Choices must be made along the way with the wrong ones leading to a dead end!
Once the childhood home of Richard III, Middleham Castle is an incredible building that visitors can walk around and learn of its history. Despite being a ruin it’s still very much intact with remains of an oven and horse mill which can still be found on the castle grounds. There’s also a viewing platform which offers incredible views of Wensleydale.
Horse Racing in Middleham
The North Yorkshire town of Middleham is known for it’s horse racing. This attraction is what brings in the money for the town and is much bigger than tourism.
In 1765, Isaac Cape was the first person to become a race horse trainer here. It’s now home to Middleham Trainers’ Association with trainers including Ben Haslam, James Bethell, Jedd O’Keefe, and Mark Johnston.
Religion in Middleham
The Church of Saints Mary and Alkelda is Church of England and serves the residents of Middleham. The building’s architecture dates back to the 14th and 15th century however there has been evidence to suggest that it dates back to the 13th century. It’s also believed that a church was on the site before the current one was built.
Close by to the church is St Alkelda’s well. The water is thought to have had healing properties which restored weak eyes.
Another belief is that Edward of Middleham, the Prince of Wales, was buried here. He died close by in Middleham Castle in 1484 and this is the closest church to the castle.
As of the 15th of February in 1967, St Mary and Alkelda’s Church became a Grade I listed building.
Travelling In & Out of Middleham
The town of Middleham has a very limited bus service which runs between Richmond and Ripon. Close by there is also the A6108 which is two miles away from Leyburn.
History of Middleham
William the Conqueror owned the town of Middleham before passing it on to his cousin Alan Rufus in 1069. Alan then went on to develop the town by building a wooden motte and bailey castle. He also later went on the build nearby Richmond Castle.
In 1086, the Domesday book records Middleham as Medelai. This is translated to mean middle and village.
The construction for Middleham Castle began in 1190. It belonged to Richard Neville, the 16th Earl of Warwick. During the war of the roses Edward IV and Henry IV were held as prisoners. The castle later passed to Richard the Duke of Gloucester. When Richard died, the castle was used as a political base rather than a home. Currently the castle is now a ruin however it’s run by English Heritage and visitors can explore the grounds.
In 1389, the Lord of Middleham Manor received a crown grant to hold a weekly market. Since then, this has been developed and there are now two market squares.