Helmsley Castle

Helmsley Castle is a medieval castle located in the town of the same name in North Yorkshire.

Helmsley Castle and garden

Helmsley Castle History

All that remains of the earliest castle erected in the 1120s by Walter Espec are the massive earthworks. Most of the stone structure dates back to the 13th century, which was constructed by Robert de Roos I.

The West Range Helmsley Castle

Helmsley Castle started out as an earth and timber castle under Walter Espec. The castle passed to his son-in-law Robert de Roos. Robert leveled off the inner earthworks and began stone construction by erecting a curtain wall and round corner towers.

The castle had no central keep like most castles of the period, instead, it relied heavily on the vast earthworks surrounding the castle for defense. In the center of the east curtain wall, Robert erected a two-story tower.

In the 13th century, barbicans were added to both gates to provide more protection. The 14th century saw the East Tower expand upwards an additional full story, making it a massive “D” shaped tower, half of which can be seen in the photo above.

Helmsley Castle East Tower

Although strongly defended, Helmsley Castle never saw much action until the Civil War when it was successfully besieged in 1644 and made indefensible by demolishing parts of the curtain walls and blowing up the East Tower. The remains of the destroyed tower can still be seen laying in the ditch next to the tower.

In 1688, Helmsley Castle was sold to Charles Duncombe breaking the succession from Walter Espec and the de Roos lords. Today the castle is in the care of English Heritage which has just completed the construction of a brand new visitors center for Helmsley Castle.
Helmsley Castle Highlights

The earthworks alone make Helmsley Castle worth a visit. The massive ditches and hills completely surround the castle making it difficult to attack. In fact, it was only due to the starving of the inhabitants that Helmsley Castle was successfully besieged during the Civil War.

Statues At Helmsley Castle

At the South end of the castle stands the large remains of the barbican which had a drawbridge and was flanked by two massive drum towers.

Besides the East Tower, the West Tower and Great Hall are the most impressive parts of the castle remaining today. They are not as grand as the East Tower but remain largely intact. The Great Hall houses some displays and artifacts from the castle.

Helmsley Castle Visitor Information

Helmsley Castle and courtyard

Helmsley Castle is located off the A170 between Thirsk and Scarborough, near Helmsley’s Town Center. The car park is to the left just after the castle.

Helmsley Castle is open to the public:

01 April – 30 September: 10 am-6 pm
01 October – 31 March: 10 am-4 pm
Closed: 24- 26 Dec and 1 Jan

A castle gift shop is available in the castle and visitors can participate in an audio tour too.

For updated information about opening times and tickets visit the official website or contact the Tourist Information Centre at 01439 770173.

Helmsley Castle Location

Castlegate, Helmsley, York, North Yorkshire YO62 5AB, United Kingdom.
Get help with directions using the map provided below:

Helmsley Castle Map

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