Middleham is a little town very close to our farm. It is now a major centre for horse racing and has many racing stables in the vicinity. But in the past it was an important place and a seat of royalty.
The castle, now a magnificent ruin and managed by English Heritage, was built in the reign of Henry II, a no-nonsense piece of architecture meant to signify strength and purpose - with keep walls twelve feet thick. In the Wars of the Roses both Edward IV and Henry VI were imprisoned there.
It was in the fifteenth century that it really came into its own, when it became the home of Warwick The King-Maker, and it was there that Richard, Duke of Gloucester and then
Richard III, met Anne, Warwick's daughter. Lady Anne Neville became the wife of RichardIII and they made Middleham Castle their home in the North - it was said to be Richard's favourite home.
These were troubled times. They had money, and status, and - it is said - a palatial home, but none of this mattered in the fifteenth century. In 1484 their son, Edward, aged eleven, died there in what has become known as The Prince's Tower; in 1485 Lady Anne Neville also died and of course Richard himself was killed at The Battle of Bosworth Field.
In the English Civil War it was used for a time as a prison but then it began to fall into disrepair and like so many places around the world, its stone was taken by the locals to build their houses. How are the mighty fallen
Across the road from the castle stands an ancient market cross. On its top is a greatly eroded stone animal, which may well be what is left of a boar - which was Richard's emblem. I am putting a photo of the plaque on my blog too - hoping it is clear enough to read.
It is an imposing ruin and in early Summer it is covered with tiny pink flowers in all the crevices. The flower is called The Fairy Foxglove (Erinus Alpinus). This flower is also growing in profusion at various forts along Hadrian's Wall and I like to think that the story is true that it originally came to England from Italy as seed on the boots of the Roman soldiers.