Mulgrave Old Castle


Two years ago to the day I went for a walk through Mulgrave Woods to the Old Castle. Today’s Image of the East Row Beck was made on the way up to the old stones. It was something of a sentimental journey. Before I moved to the Yorkshire coast I’d passed this way with my faithful four-legs-good companion; I had no real interest in the history of the place. But now that I know that some of my forebears may have lived in much grander dwellings than this one…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t believe for one moment that I am a blood relation to the great (and most probably bad) named in yesterday’s post but I nonetheless detected a spring in my arthritic step on this morning’s walk.  I thought I’d take a brief look at a few of “my kind” who had lived a few miles north of here in castled splendour. I knew some of them had a strong connection to local history – Earls Mulgrave/Marquises of Normanby were Governors and Patrons of the Whitby Museum for many years in the mid to late 19th century – but I didn’t expect to find any direct connections to Filey.

Here’s a transcript of the information board outside the castle walls: –

Since its construction, around the year 1214, Mulgrave Castle has been the home of the de Mauley family, of the Bigod family, of the Radcliffe family, and of Edmund Lord Sheffield, president of the Council of the North and a veteran of the fight against the Spanish Armada.

It served as a prison for the unhappy captives of the de Mauley’s master, King John, and as a base for widespread poaching, cattle raiding, and worse. The last Peter de Mauley left the Castle to his wife, Matilda; it was said at the time to be worth nothing. Lord Sheffield, in about 1600, converted the neglected buildings into a hunting-lodge which, over forty years later, he was called upon to re-fortify against a Royalist force. The Castle was besieged twice during the Civil War and then blown up.

In 1743 The Mulgrave Estate was inherited by the Phipps family and in 1792 the Castle and surrounding woodlands were viewed by the great landscape architect Humphrey Repton. At his suggestion the ruins were Romanticised by the Earl of Mulgrave. In order to halt the steady disappearance of the Castle, a programme of repair and consolidation was begun in 1995. This was finished in 1999.

Google Images will provide you with plenty of pictures of Mulgrave Old Castle but this painting by John Piper dated ‘8 X 75’ (8th October 1975?) shows the manner in which the ruins were ‘disappearing’.

Here are some of the people associated with the Castle who appear on FamilySearch Tree.

Peter de MAULEY: 9Q7D-1TS  This standalone Peter is not pinned geographically but seems to be a successor to King John’s “evil counsellor” of that name who died in 1241 “probably in the Holy Land” according to Wikipedia.

In early 1217 Maulay was ordered by the regent, William Marshal, to surrender control of Sherborne Castle and Somerset to William Longespee, the Earl of Salisbury, to help secure the return of Longespee to the royal cause. But Maulay refused to do so.

(I’m sure I saw a Longespee among my WELLS/COTTS forebears.)

Piers de MAULEY: LCPN-VYD, Matilda LZKX-K3D. (Matilda de NEVILLE born Raby Castle in County Durham, died in Preachers Friars, Scarborough.)



John BIGOD: LCM8-HTQ (acquired Mulgrave through marriage to Constance de MAULEY).


Humphrey REPTON: KD1H-S1N

George Augustine Constantine PHIPPS: L4HD-MHV

For the surest way to navigate the history of Mulgrave Old Castle look here. CastlesFortsBattles plays to its expected strengths but is also great on access advice and path finding. (Because I had been once before I thought I didn’t need a map or directions revision and got lost.)

Looking for photographs of the woods online I found one that was very familiar. My version is below; the similar perspective on Geograph here (with more photos of the area to browse). The unexpected and somewhat alien tunnel is a relic of the alum works.



KingFornjotI looked for “my” LONGESPEE but he proved elusive. I found other folk with familiar names instead. I’d spoken to D earlier this morning at the supermarket checkout – I just had to tell someone about my discovery. She  mentioned a programme on the TV about us all being related to a particular bloke. Jokingly I said, “Would that be Adam?” “No, someone more recent than that.” I offered “Charlemagne” and received  a “That’s  him” response. I expect you’ve guessed already. Big Charlie IS on my pedigree. So is King David, Lot, Ham, Noah and, sigh, Adam and his consort. There are countless European Kings and Queens and longship loads of Vikings back to FORNJOT LZFX-R1J (left, picture contributed by E J Rich).

Unreal. I’m thoroughly depressed. Why me?

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