The rich and mysterious history of “The Castle That Malton Forgot” is the focus of a new exhibition led by Malton Museum.
The castle, believed to have originally been built in the Castlegate area of Malton at the end of the 11th Century, played its part in some of the most important moments in English history, hosting key figures such as Robert the Bruce, King Richard I and King John as well as enduring sieges, occupations and sackings.
Now Malton Musuem have teamed up with Ryedale District Council and Malton Castle Garden to tell its tale at the Parish Rooms, Yorkersgate, Malton, from now until June 15.
The project, which features information about the castle and historical relics, also includes an exhibition of photographs and a sculpture in Castle Garden, the grounds of The Old Lodge Hotel.
Work on the project has taken two years, says Yvette Turnbull, Ryedale District Council’s Creative Economy Officer.
“It all began when Ryedale District Council undertook some stabilisation work on the castle walls in 2012,” she said. “It was clear that, although the history of the castle is astonishing, very few people knew anything about it. We have some clues left – like Castlegate – but people don’t always put two and two together, so we decided to do as much as we could to help people know more about Malton’s rather illustrious past.”
The partners then began to research the castle’s long and complex history.
Ann Clark, a volunteer with Malton Museum, said: “Malton Castle represents a time when the town was thriving not just locally but as part of the nation’s story and, whilst Malton Museum’s collection is largely Roman, it has important material from later periods.
“There is still much to discover and we hope that the display will encourage more work on this exciting time in the town’s history.”
Funding was also found to recruit Pete Coates, a sculptor and stonemason from Brawby, who created a permanent piece of artwork – made from stone and oak – for one of the last remaining pieces of the castle wall in Castle Gardens.
The exhibition is also complemented by Kirkbymoorside Camera Club who created an exhibition of photographs to go on display in the Parish Rooms, Malton Museum’s new home.
The castle’s origins – from what is known – begins with the Romans who established a fort in the 1st Century AD. Even though the Romans left in the late 4th or early 5th Century, a small village grew up near the remains of the fort and prospered, featuring in the Domesday Book at the end of the 11th Century.
Local historians believe Ivo de Vescy, a Norman knight, was most likely responsible for building the earliest castle – a round wooden tower with a defended area surrounding it, known as a motte and bailey.
A new stone castle was built in the early part of the 12th century and was home to Eustace fitz John, a northern knight and close friend of Henry I.
The only known illustration of this castle is on a map of 1399 – which is featured in the exhibition.
There is little surviving physical evidence of the castle, although short stretches of its outer wall form the eastern boundary wall of St Leonard’s churchyard, and remains of the southern boundary just north of Castlegate include a buttress thought to be of the 12th Century
The castle was owned by powerful families and has a history of sieges, occupations and sackings.
It is likely that it hosted a meeting between King Richard I of England and William of Scotland, while King John is also believed to have visited.
The owner in 1215 is believed to have been a leader in the Barons’ Revolt and one of the 25 Barons who forced King John to accept the Magna Carta. King John would take his revenge, however, and his order for the demolition of Malton Castle was only reprieved by his death the following year.
The castle reverted to the Crown in 1314, when William de Vescy left no heir when he was killed at Bannockburn.
It was occupied by Robert the Bruce who wrecked it before leaving. A new gateway was built, but the castle did not flourish.
In 1387, the manor of Old Malton passed to Katherine and her husband, Sir Ralph Eure. The family flourished but by 1540, the castle site was only described as hosting “a mean house for a farmer.”
A house was built on the site in the early 17th Century by Ralph, the 3rd Lord Eure. However it would be besieged and is believed to have suffered considerable damage as his son, William, was a Catholic who supported King Charles during the Civil War.
l The exhibition at the Parish Rooms is free to enter and open from Thursday to Saturday until June 15. Castle Gardens are open during daylight hours every day.