A Brief History of Crayke : Crayke Castle
The foundation of the castle is of uncertain date. Some have assigned it to Bishop Pudsey (1153-1195) , others to Bishop Bek (1283-1310) or Kellow (1311-1316),, though it is recorded  that Bishop Pudsey spent a night at the castle in 1195 where he suffered from food poisoning which led to his death the following day in Howden. As it is known  that the land on and around Crayke hill was gifted to Bishop Cuthbert by the King of Northumbria in 685, it seems likely that the Saxon Bishops of Durham would have had a hall or country house of some kind, presumably run by monks from Lindesfarne or Jarrow, on the hill before the time of the Norman Conquest , though no firm archival or archaeological evidence of this has been found. The earliest Norman castle probably was of timber construction and of the motte-and-bailey design, later rebuilt in stone. Most of the castle had fallen into a ruinous state by the early 16th century  and little remains of it today. The present castle is of 15th century construction, built by Bishop Neville around 1450 with stone quarried from Brandsby and Yearsley. The now ruinous remains of the ‘New Tower’, probably of late 15th century construction, stand to the north east of the castle.
It is recorded that King Edward III lodged at the Norman castle on 19 October 1345 ,  and that King John (in 1209, 1210 and 1211), Henry III (in 1227), Edward I (in 1292) and Edward II (in 1316) all stayed there . The Bishops of Durham maintained a deer park around the castle up to the time of King James I (1603-1625). There is no record of any skirmish in Crayke during the civil wars (1642-1651), though a couple of canon balls have been found in the area. As for ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’, this well-known nursery rhyme refers to an incident in the Battle of Wakefield on December 30, 1460, during the Wars of the Roses, when Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York and claimant to the English throne, was defeated by the Lancastrian army near his hilltop castle at Sandal, 2 miles south of Wakefield - a long way from Crayke!
The ruinous old castle on Crayke hill was ordered by Parliament to be destroyed in 1646 and in 1648 the manor of Crayke was sold by the Puritan Parliament to William Allenson, a  former Lord Mayor of York and then member of Parliament for York. Allenson’s son Charles repaired and restored the 15th century Great Chamber and this is essentially all that remains of the castle today. The manor reverted to the see of Durham in c. 1667 but was leased and sub-leased variously until the last of the Bishop Princes, Van Mildert , procured an Act of Parliament enabling him to sell it to private ownership in 1827 .
In 1780 the castle was used as a farmhouse ; the main ground-level room had an earth floor and probably was used as the kitchen, with the vaulted undercroft, originally a store room set below an earlier kitchen of which nothing remains, serving as a cattle shed. The original entrance to the main hall of the castle, which took up most of the first floor and was warmed by two large fireplaces set into the west and south walls, was at the eastern end of the north side of the building and now is blocked up. The floor above had a similar entrance, the two probably being connected originally by an external wooden staircase. The smaller entrance to the ground floor was originally on the east side, now partly blocked to form a window. The internal staircase linking the ground and first floors and the sub-division of the floors into separate rooms were later, probably Victorian, additions, as was the wing built on the north east side. Water for the castle had to be carried or pumped up from the village well until the installation of a mains supply between the two world wars. The castle was used as a billet for the Women’s Land Army during the second war.
To the north-west of the castle, the first hill on the road to Oulston is marked on OS maps as Gallows Hill. Presumably this was the site of an executioner’s gallows at some time and probably is associated with some part of the history of the castle, though no records have been found.
|A brief history of Crayke|
|The Roman Period|
| The Saxon, Viking
and Norman Periods
|The Church of St.Cuthbert|
|Rectory and Rectors|
|Other points of historical interest|
|Changing place names|
|Gallery of photographs|