Houses of Interest: North Yorkshire

For more Yorkshire 'related stuff' you can find West Yorkshire hereSouth Yorkshire here, and East Riding here.

For sites of interest in York, and the Marston Moor battlefield see here; Skipton Castle see here, and Knaresborough Castle here.

All Saints Church in Ripley (Harrogate way, not the one in Derbyshire) was used by the Parliamentarians as a billet for their soldiers who were pursuing fleeing Royalists from Marston Moor. A number were captured and executed against the walls of the church which still bears the scars of musket balls. Inside the Church they added graffiti  "no pompe nor pride let God be honoured" to the tomb of Sir William Ingilby (1546-1618).

Interestingly Sir William's children are both claimed to have fought at Marston Moor: Sir William (junior) was a Royalist cavalry officer, and his sister Jane is supposed to have disguised herself as a man wearing full armour in order to take the field.

After the Battle Sir William (jr.) hid in Ripley Castle's priest hole when Cromwell's men came looking for him; Cromwell asked to stay the night, Jane agreed on the condition that his men slept in the barn and she could keep two loaded pistols at her side. For this, Jane became known as 'trooper Jane'. Private guided tours of the castle are available.

Photo of a Victorian print of Jane keeping guard over Cromwell in the Castle's library

There are many 'local fables' about the Civil Wars, usually involving Cromwell allegedly visiting places that he never actually visited or doing something that never happened or someone else very definitely did. One only has to look around at the prevalence of landmarks prefaced with "Oliver's". Most of these stories, and names, stem from a Victorian desire to cover the unsavoury bits of merry olde English history with a broad brush of romanticism. Sadly the story of trooper Jane might just fall into this category.

The story of both Sir William and Jane is a little problematical: Sir William does not appear in the Indignant Officer lists (as having served in the Royalist Army) as one would expect. Nor does he appear in any officer lists for any of the regiments that make up the Marston Moor Royalist order of battle. That does not necessarily negate his presence at Marston Moor as many of the regimental lists are incomplete, however his absence from Indignant Officers does place a large question mark on whether he was a serving officer in the King's Army.

Jane wearing full armour to fight at Marston Moor: whilst vaguely plausible, this has more than a whiff of  Victorian embellishment about it - serving troopers had long ditched full armour because it was too heavy to wear into battle, suitable horses to carry the extra weight were thin on the ground as they had already been taken for service in the war, where did she find a suit of armour that fitted her? A buff coat and helmet would serve equally to mask her identity. There are a handful of well documented cases of women who donned men's attire to fight as soldiers, but these are heavily outweighed by rumours and fiction.

The keeping guard over Cromwell with a brace of pistols part of the story, whilst seemingly far fetched, might just be the truthful part of the story. I wonder if even the Victorians might think that is an embellishment too far.

But no evidence appears to exist other than the Victorian retelling of the tale, so we will probably never know how much of the tale is true (if any), and how much is Victorian fabrication. 

St John the Baptist Church, in Knaresborough houses the Slingsby Chapel. There are a number of interesting tombs and memorials including that of Sir William Slingsby, Commissary of the Fleet, who died in 1638 (or 1634 depending upon source material). Sir William's effigy is depicted in clothing typical of the time (1638). 

More relevant for the ECW aficionado is the tomb of his nephew, Sir Henry Slingsby, 1st baronet. Sir Henry was appointed colonel of York's city militia in 1638. Slingsby would fight in the First Bishops' War, and be one of the first MPs to swear loyalty to Charles in 1642. When Henrietta-Maria landed at Bridlington with a large consignment of arms, Slingsby accompanied her escort to Oxford before he returned to York. Sir Henry and his regiment did not fight at Marston Moor, as they stayed behind to garrison the city. Sir Henry soldiered on, after the surrender of York, eventually surrendering himself at Newark. His memoirs provide a good insight into the wars.

He would continue fighting and plotting for the monarchy possibly having a hand in the Penruddock Rising; and, possibly less likely, being a member of the Sealed Knot. He would be imprisoned in Hull, before being moved to the Tower of London where he was executed for treason. 

On the 7th December 1642 Sir Thomas Fairfax attempted to hold Tadcaster bridge from a far superior Royalist force. Artillery was placed upon the remains of Tadcaster Castle motte, earthworks were erected along the river bank and the town's buildings set alight. The Royalist forces were too strong and Fairfax's men withdrew to Selby under cover of darkness. Black Tom unsuccessfully attempted to retake the town a few months later. 

Tadcaster Castle's motte

One of the few buildings to survive the fire of the first assault,
 the extension is a modern addition

The remains of the castle's motte are located behind the church (an ideal place to park); the earthworks along the river bank are modern flood protection measures.

The 14th Century Cawood Castle, was initially held by the Royalists. Originally garrisoned for the King, the castle was captured by the younger John Hotham (governor of Hull's eldest son) for Parliament. Thee Earl of Newcastle briefly recaptured it for the Royalists in 1644, before Lord Fairfax retook it for Parliament and used it as a prisoner of war camp. After the Wars the Castle would be sleighted, with only a handful of farm buildings and the gatehouse remaining. The gatehouse is now holiday cottages, run by the Landmarks Trust.

Cawood Castle Gatehouse

Bolton Castle near Leyburn, was sanctuary for those Royalists fleeing Marston Moor. Governor John Scrope held the Castle during a six month siege, and the garrison surrendered (they'd literally eaten everything, and were starved into surrender). Parliamentary forces would garrison the castle for two years before Parliament ordered it to be sleighted. 

Bolton Castle

Stunning views of the Dales from the Castle rooftop

What's there now? Impressive ruins house an excellent café, shop and a few rooms dressed to give an impression of how the state rooms would have looked. Famous for being one of Mary Queen of Scots prisons, she reputedly learned to speak English here.

There are a number of interesting (!) reproduction items of armour on the walls.

More interesting is the central courtyard, which has raised lines of cobbles - believed to be the footings of animal pens established prior to the 1644 siege.

Postcodes for SatNavs
All Saints Church, Main Street, Ripley HG3 3AD
Ripley Castle HG3 3AY
St John the Baptist, Knaresborough HG5 9AE
Tadcaster Castle LS24 9BL
Cawood Castle Gatehouse, Cawood YO8 3SG
Bolton Castle, near Leyburn DL8 4ET

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  1. Famous last words. That beer was actually called 'Crack Shot.' It was brewed by the Daleside Brewery who don't seem to include it in their production any more. I wonder if it is reserved to Ripley Castle, as the current Sir Thomas Ingilby who owns the trade mark.

    And there is an interesting sub topic for you; beers of the civil war!

    1. Cheers Dex. Strange you should mention beer+civil wars... There's a new London post in the pipeline, a Civil War themed pub crawl around London (complete with underground transfers)

    2. Now that sounds like a plan!

    3. That sounds like an excellent idea. Purely from the historical interest point of view ;-)

    4. Oh, it'll have to be checked, and double checked before I could release it on the general public. Wouldn't want anyone getting lost 😉


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