Middleham

Information on Middleham, Yorkshire

Middleham is an historic Dales town in Wensleydale, on a hillside between the River Cover and the River Ure, 2 miles from Leyburn on the A6108.  It’s famous for its ruined castle, which was King Richard III’s childhood home and its horse racing stables. The area was first settled by the Romans. A branch road from the Great North Road passed through Middleham to Bainbridge and the Romans built a guard station to control traffic on the River Ure close to the town. Construction of the castle began in 1190.  In 1462, the 10 year old future King Richard III came there to the home of his cousin, the 16th Earl of Warwick , to learn the skills of Knighthood. The castle is now a ruin after having been dismantled in 1646, but a number of remnants of the past have been unearthed near the castle by metal detector enthusiasts, including jewellery bearing Royal crests and the ‘Middleham jewel’ which was eventually sold for £2.5m .The town was granted a charter to hold a weekly market in 1389 and the town still has two market places. The larger, lower market is dominated by a mediaeval cross. The upper, or swine market, centres around the remains of a 15th-century market cross and a line of steps. The growth of the racing industry in Georgian times saw the rebuilding of much of Middleham and the establishment of the first recorded racehorse trainer, Isaac Cape around 1765.  Race meetings were held regularly on the High Moor above town during the 18th Century and it’s from this era that most of the buildings originate. Today a number of racing stables exist around the town and on most mornings the market square echoes to the sound of hooves as jockeys take their mounts to exercise on the hills around the town. Middleham has a number of accommodation and eating options and 4 pubs- The Black Swan, The White Swan, The Black Bull and Richard III.

For info on where to stay in the Dales and hotel, B+B and cottage bookings see my accommodation page.

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