Robert de Romille built a motte and bailey castle here around 1090. He had come from an old established family in Romille, Brittany. Having fought at the Battle of Hastings of 1066, he was probably promised, like so many other knights who joined William the Conqueror’s army, land and
so he was granted Skipton.
On Robert’s death the castle passed to his daughter who married William de Meschines possibly in 1130. The property then passed to their daughter Alice who married William fitzDuncan, Lord of Skipton.
It wasn’t until some time between 1194 and 1241 that the castle was rebuilt in stone. In style it seems to have the influence of the King’s Master Mason, Robert Beverley. This is an unusual triangular castle layout which has a central atrium known as the Conduit Court, within this 6 drum towered castle. I think this unusual layout and its drum towers, including the twin drum towered gatehouse, needs further investigation to ascertain with some certainty the possible name of the architect involved.
By 1274 the castle became the property of the Crown.
Although King Edward II granted the castle to his favourite knight, Piers Gaveston in 1307, it was very soon afterwards given to Robert Clifford in 1310 who began more work in strengthening the castle until he was killed at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. It was then inherited by Roger de Clifford.
Later the tenth Lord Clifford had much of the existing castle repaired. The eleventh Lord was made Earl of Cumberland by King Henry VIII and had the eastern part of the castle built,
which is now used as a private residence.
During the Civil War, the castle was held by Sir John Mallory and his Royalists garrison who withstood a three year siege. To neutralise the effects of cannon fire, the garrison hung sheep’s fleeces over the sides of the walls. The castle’s surrender was negotiated in 1645
Parliament decreed that the castle should be demolished but Lady Anne, the last of the Clifford family, petitioned against the decision. Oliver Cromwell allowed her to repair the castle, provided the castle’s roof was not strong enough to bear cannon.
After its repair, and to commemorate the occasion, Lady Anne planted a yew tree in the Conduit Court.
The castle is currently owned by the Fattorini family and is open to the public.
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