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.

The ownership of the castle then passed to the Earls of Thanet and their relatives.





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 family.

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.


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