Spofforth Castle resides in North Yorkshire, England, and was the principal residence of the powerful Percy family until the late 14th century. William de Percy, a favorite of William the Conqueror, built a manor house at Spofforth in the 11th century.

Spofforth Castle

It is reputed that the Northern Barons drafted the Magna Carta at Spofforth Castle in 1215. In 1224, Henry III granted a license to hold a Friday market in the town, and in 1308 Henry de Percy received a license to crenelate and fortify the manor house into a castle.

The Percy family supported the House of Lancaster during the Wars of the Roses. Following the Battle of Towton in 1461, which the House of York won, the Yorkist army, led by the Earl of Warwick, marched on Spofforth, burned the castle to ruins, and plundered the surrounding countryside.

Spofforth Castle would remain in ruins for almost 100 years until 1559 when it was restored by Henry, Lord Percy. By this time, the seat of the Percy family had shifted further north to Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. The last recorded occupant of Spofforth Castle was the castle steward Sampson Ingleby, who died in 1604. The castle was once again reduced to ruin during the English Civil War.

In 1924, Charles Henry, 3rd Baron Leconfield, gifted ownership of the castle to the state. The castle remains under the guardianship of English Heritage.

Castle Highlights

The ruins that makeup Spofforth Castle today are the remnants of the west range. Only earthworks and low walls of the north, south, and east ranges remain.

The 14th century Solar, or private chamber, is similar in design to that of Markenfield Hall, near Ripon, with a spiral staircase turret leading from the main room to the first floor. The columns and stone corbels on the west wall also date from the 14th century. The first-floor east and west walls were rebuilt with impressive windows in the 15th century.

Spofforth Castle is located in the middle of the village of Spofforth. Even on bright sunny days, the castle feels dark and cold. Spofforth Castle can be thoroughly explored in an hour or two. Ripley and Knaresborough castles are close enough to visit Spofforth Castle on the same day.

Spofforth Castle is also haunted.