SKIPTON CASTLE - Landlords of the Moorhouses (1500's -1746)
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The first castle at Skipton was a primitive timber structure
built about 1090 by a Norman Baron, Robert de Romille. It did not stand
up to the raids by the rampaging Scots. It was then rebuilt
in stone and granted to the Clifford family by Edward 2nd in 1310
when Robert Clifford was appointed first Lord of Skipton.
The family took the royalist side during
the Civil War and the castle and its inhabitants managed to withstand
a three-year siege. A surrender was negotiated in 1745 and as part of
the conditions the castle roof had to be removed and the castle walls
reduced in size.
Lady Ann Clifford (1590-1676) became the 14th "Lord of Skipton"
as she had outlived all the male claimants. Between 1657 and 1658 Ann
was granted permission to rebuild the castle but not to its previous strength.
The walls were thinner, windows were added and the roof was not strong enough
to bear firing cannons. The extent to which the walls were demolished
is clearly visible when you tour the castle.
ownership of the castle then passed to the Earls of Thanet and
The Moorhouse family rented Close House
farm from the castle
from the 1500's until 1620 when Edward Moorhouse moved across the
valley to the "model farm" at East Skibeden where
the Moorhouses stayed until 1746. According to
Henry Speight in "Upper
Wharfedale" the Moorhouse family were among the principal tenants of the castle.
In the rent roll of 1652, "John Moorehouse for
Close House groundes" was paying 27 pounds to The Countess
Pembroke "Lord" of the honour of Skipton, as recorded by Dawson in a "History
of Skipton". John was a brother of Thomas Moorhouse (1606-1661)
In 1746 the Moorhouse family moved to The
White House in Elslack, on the other side of Skipton, to be under the protection
of the Tempest family (the leading Roman Catholic family in the area). This
was because of the Stuart [or Jacobite] rebellion (a plot by the Catholic Bonnie
Prince Charlie to seize the English throne) which resulted in Catholics being
treated by suspicion by Protestants and therefore the Protestant landlords
at the castle would not have approved of their Catholic tenants, the Moorhouse
The Fattorini family now owns the castle. They are
also descendants of Baldisaro
Porri (1803-1872) who is an ancestor of
the William Moorhouse family. If you get the chance to visit
this well preserved castle you should do so - it is a lot of fun and we take
visitors there often.
The photographs of the castle are courtesy of Skipton Castle, Yorkshire. www.skiptoncastle.co.uk