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of John, Lord Nevill of Raby and Middleham, the ceremony being solemnised by Thomas Hatfield, the famous warriorBishop of Durham.
The manor-house at Lumley was too small for the accommodation of so powerful and highly connected a noble as Ralph, Lord Lumley of Lumley, consequently he decided to build a new residence.
Purely fortress - castles of the type of Kilton were now as completely out-of-date as was the chain-mail armour of their builders. Never comfortable to live in, with draughty great halls, cramped and inadequate private apartments, and gloomy chambers, they had been tolerated in the days of the early Plantagenets, because of their defensive properties. But with the establishment of an efficient administration of justice, combined with a growing demand for greater comfort and even of luxury, they were now a complete anachronism, and those, such as Castleton, which had not been abandoned altogether, had been converted, like Raby, into residences where comfort, cheerfulness, and luxury were more considered than defensive properties.
An entirely new style of castle had now come into vogue, the great fortress-palaces of which Bolton - in - Wensleydale is such a stately and imposing example. This magnificent structure, commenced in 1379 by Richard, Lord Scrope, was completed in 1396 at a cost, according to Leland, of £12,000, equivalent to over £130,000 of modern money. These new palaces were rectangular buildings, erected round a quadrangle or courtyard, with large towers at the angles.
Ralph, Lord Lumley, had passed his youth in, perhaps, the earliest example in England of this style of castle, viz. Danby in Cleveland, which, as we have already seen, was built by William, Lord Latimer, the husband of the notorious Lucia de Thweng, between 1300 and 1303. His father-in-law, Lord Nevill, was the rebuilder of Raby and Sheriff Hutton, the father of his brother-in-law was the builder of great Bolton. As a residence, Kilton was of little use to Lord Lumley, for it was erected on a site which, owing to its extreme narrowness, whilst admirably adapted for a purely defensive castle of the Enceintric type, could not be modified to suit the new fashion. Consequently, Lord Lumley decided to abandon it altogether.
In 1389, he obtained a licence from Bishop Robert Skirlaw, and in 1392 another from King Richard II, to convert his manor
house at Lumley into a castle, and in the former year he commenced the erection of the present fortress-palace of Lumley, the residence of his descendant, Lord Scarbrough, and one of the most stately of our country houses. About the same time, Ralph's brother-in-law, Ralph, Lord Nevill of Raby, commenced the erection of a fortress-palace round the grim old Norman keep of Middleham.
Ralph did away with the expensive chantry chapel at Kirkleatham, and about 1398 dissolved the chantry chapel of St. Peter within the castle of Kilton, a sure sign that no further extended residence was contemplated there. But he seems to have lived at Kilton between 1389 and 1398, when Lumley Castle was in course of construction, but, naturally, made no alterations to it.
The history of Kilton Castle subsequent to 1389 need not detain us long. John, 7th Lord Lumley, married Joan, daughter of Henry, Lord Scrope of Bolton, and his son, George Lumley, was one of the principal leaders in the Pilgrimage of Grace, being executed for his share in that adventure.
When, in 1537, the Crown took possession of Kilton Castle, the old fortalice was a mere shell. The long neglect of 140 years had told its tale. Roofless, ivy clad, its timber floorings long since rotted away, trees and shrubs growing in the courtyard and right up to the walls, it stood gaunt and grim, a mouldering memorial of a long dead past.
But, although here and there the walls had probably given way, it would still be structurally almost complete, and was still, in theory, a castle held by knight service in the barony of de Percy, although the system of tenure was forgotten.
"It also appereth in the sayed office that the sayd castle and mannours of Kilton, Lethom, Lound, and Bothome are holden (by Richard, Lord Lumley) of Henry, the Erle of Northumberland, but the Jurors certifyed an ignoramus by what seruyce.
And that the manours of Thweng and Thorpe are holden of the heyres of Sir Jo. Percy, Kt., by what service the Jurors know not. And that the mannours of Great Moarsome and Little Moarsome and the lands in Glaphowe are holden of the King in capite" (Extract from the Percy Feodary, 1511).
Had the castle been situate in a town, it would, doubtless, after 1537, have been converted or adapted to more modern purposes, or pulled down altogether; but being situate in a
lonely and very sparsely inhabited district, it was simply allowed to go to ruin.
No doubt soon after 1537 the spoilation we now deplore would commence, and the castle would be used as a convenient quarry of ready-dressed stone. But it is doubtful whether any very serious damage was done for at least a century after that date.
There is an interesting local tradition relating to the castle which is worth putting on record. As related to the writer when a boy, unfortunately nearly twenty years ago, it ran as follows:
Kilton Castle was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell. He came into Cleveland with a large army and a train of artillery, but had great difficulty in finding the castle, which was then held by a party of Royalists. After much marching and countermarching, Cromwell and his men, as evening approached, rested on the side of a hill. As they rested, across the stillness of the evening air came the gentle tinkle of a bell ringing for vespers. Cromwell at once sent forward scouts to localise the sound. They returned, and announced that they had discovered it came from the castle chapel. Having thus found the castle, he advanced to the attack, and after a long siege, in which he lost many men, succeeded in taking it, and then blew it up with gunpowder."
This tradition was told to the writer by the late Mr. Petch, of Liverton, whose forebears had for many generations resided within a couple of miles of the castle. It seems, however, somewhat improbable that Kilton would, in the time of the Civil War, be in sufficiently perfect condition to be patched up and held by a party of Royalists against the ubiquitous Cromwell. It had not been occupied for some 240 years previous to that date, and must then have been in an utterly ruinous condition. And yet it is an undoubted fact that many castles, of which Scarborough is an example, then in a ruinous condition and unfit for habitation, were, in these troublous times, hastily patched up and offered very serious opposition to the rebels. That fighting took place at Guisborough, only some six miles distant, we know, for Col. Slingsby, with 700 of the royal troops, was defeated there by a body of Roundheads, some 2,500 in number, commanded by Sir Hugh Cholmley and Sir Matthew Boynton. We have, however, no record whatever of any siege of Kilton Castle at this time,
But by far the most striking feature of the legend, in the opinion of the writer, is that it orally hands down to this day the fact that there was a chapel at Kilton Castle. As this chapel was done away with in 1398, this is a very remarkable point.
About 1680 the manor and castle were purchased from the Crown by a certain Mr. Thomas Thweng-probably a descendant of a junior branch of the baronial house-who resided at Kilton. It is perfectly certain that he did not live at the castle, which must at that time have been altogether in ruins, and one is inclined to imagine that it may have been this Mr. Thweng who committed the unforgivable vandalism of erecting the original Kilton Hall partly of stone brought from the castle. At any rate, about this time a substantial house with outbuildings was built on the site of the present Kilton Hall. His only daughter and heiress, Ann, married Mr. William Tullie, and at the east end of the chancel of Old Brotton Church is a large mural monument, with the following inscription :
SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF WILLIAM TULLIE, OF KILTON, IN THIS COUNTY, Esquire, who DEPARTED THIS LIFE 27 MAY, 1741, AGED 72, AND IS INTERRED UNDERNEATH THIS MONUMENT. HE MARRIED ANN, SOLE DAUGHTER and heiress oF THOMAS THWENG, OF KILTON CASTLE, IN THIS COUNTY, ESQUIRE (so described, doubtless, to perpetuate his connection with the ancient barons), BY
WHOM HE LEFT NO ISSUE.
Graves, the Cleveland historian, writing some 400 years after the castle had been abandoned (pp. 370-372 of his History of Cleveland, published in 1808), gives the following description of the castle as it appeared over a century ago :-1
"At a little distance from the village towards the south, on the brink of a natural precipice, washed by a small mountain rivulet, stand the remains of Kilton Castle, the baronial residence of the ancient family of Thwengs; but the edifice is now in so ruinous a state as to render it impossible to form any idea of its former strength and magnificence. From the foundations of the outer walls, it seems to have been in the form of a parallelogram, inaccessible on the east, north, and south, and fortified by a deep fosse or ditch on the west, where a large carved stone, which would appear to have once borne a coat of arms, now completely obliterated.
The original farmstead of Stank House was, about 1700, built of stone brought from Kilton Castle. In the east wall of one of the outbuildings is
the only entrance was probably kept by a drawbridge. The situation of the castle is romantic and retired."
About 1880 the late Mr. J. T. Wharton, of Skelton Castle, who appears to have taken a considerable interest in the preservation of the ruin, repaired the footings and base of the north-east tower, part of the eastern curtain, and the fragment of walling at the east end of the stabling. Since that date the ruin has been strictly preserved. It is now the property of Mr. W. H. A. Wharton, of Skelton Castle, the master of the Cleveland hunt, who is descended from the old baronial house of De Brus of Skelton through his great-grandmother, Margaret, Lady Dundas (wife of Sir Lawrence Dundas, Bart.), who was a daughter of Major Alexander Bruce of Kennet,1 a direct descendant of both the royal house of Scotland and of the Brus barons of Skelton (Bruce pedigree).
Historically, the Whartons have no connection with Kilton. They are descended from an ancient family of that name who, in the late Plantagenet period, were settled at Wharton, in Westmorland.
EXTERIOR OF THE CASTLE.
In feudal times, when the castle was inhabited, there was a village of some size2 occupying the site of the modern substantial farmstead known as Kilton Hall," and the land adjoining it, some 700 yards north-north-west of the castle. This village is now represented only by the Hall and three modern brick cottages, but the fields to the north of the site are still described on the Ordnance Survey as Town End Close," whilst the lane which leads to Kilton Mill (some half-mile north-east) is still known as "Braygate," and is so described on the Ordnance Map. This hamlet would be very pleasantly situate with a delightful southerly exposure, and protected from the north and east winds by rising ground. The present hall occupies the site of a Georgic house, which itself stood on the site of a still older manor-house, probably built of stone brought from the ruins of the castle. In 1853, according to the survey of
1 Major Alexander Bruce inherited the Kennet estates from his ancestor Thomas Bruce, to whom they were granted by his father, Sir Robert Bruce of Clackmannan, by charter dated 8th May, 1389. This Sir Robert was the eldest son and heir of Sir Robert de Bruce, knight, who, on the death of King David Bruce,
succeeded to the castle and manor of Clackmannan, as heir male of the royal house.
2" Et est ibidem de redditibus liberorum per annum viii li. viiis. ad terminos Sancti Martini et Pentecostes " (Inq. p.m. W. de Thwenge, 14 Edw. III).