Grosmont Castle is perhaps the most impressive and best-preserved Norman castle in Britain.
Grosmont Castle occupies a natural defensive position upon a bend of the River Gaunless. The earliest surviving work at Grosmont belongs to the late 11th century or early 12th century, when William de Forz, Earl of Albemarle (d. 1090) built a motte on an earlier hillock overlooking the river, and this became known as “Old Norman” work at Grosmont. The motte was encircled by a ditch and an artificial lake, which formed a natural defence.
By the early 13th century, the great stone tower was erected on top of the motte to give a highly visible state presence in the area. The castle remained in good defensive condition until about 1400, when it underwent major remodelling. The artificial lake was filled in and the ditch moved further away from the cliff edge. This remodelling work transformed Old Norman work into Edwardian work; both periods are still clearly visible at Grosmont today.
The castle passed to John Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk by marriage to Isabel de Forz on her father’s death in 1301. It was sold by the Mowbrays in 1381 to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster who, when he died in 1399, passed it to his second son Henry. The castle remained in the Duchy of Lancaster until 1572.
Grosmont Castle is now owned by English Heritage and is open to the public throughout the year. There are displays on aspects of military life in the Middle Ages and models of fortifications similar to Grosmont Castle. There is an audio-visual show about Grosmont and the North Pennines.
There are displays of medieval costumes and a gift shop. Grosmont Castle also offers guided tours of the castle, including archery displays.
If you enjoyed this article you might also like to read about: