"MIDDLEHAM, a parish and post town in the wapentake of West Hang, North Riding county York, 2 miles S. of Leyburn railway station, 9 W. of Bedale, and 10 S.W. of Richmond. It is situated on the S. Side of the river Ure, and near Middleham Moor, where many first-class horses have been reared and trained for the field and the race-course. Middleham formerly belonged to Kilpatrick the Dane, and has the ruins of a castle, built by Robert Fitz-Ranulph. The remains of this once-imposing edifice stand upon a rocky eminence near the town, and comprise the Norman keep, surrounded by a quadrangular building, measuring 210 feet by 175, and flanked by a square tower at each angle. In it the great Earl of Warwick kept Edward IV. as his prisoner, till the king, having effected his escape, obtained the decisive battle of Barnet, in which the Earl was slain, and the castle forfeited to the king, who bestowed it on his brother Richard Duke of Gloucester, whose son Edward, afterwards Prince of Wales, was born in it. The village, formerly a market town, is built on a gentle eminence rising from the river Ure, and is said to have derived its name from its situation in the centre of a number of hamlets. It is well lighted with gas, and contains many neat residences. The petty sessions for the wapentake of West Hang are held here, as also a court-leet, annually, at the White Swan Inn. Womb-combing affords employment to a few persons, but the majority are engaged in agriculture. The living forms a deanery of itself, and is a royal peculiar, valued in the king's books at £15 9s. 4½d., but the title is in future to be discontinued. The living is a rectory* in the diocese of Ripon, value £400, in the patronage of the crown. The church, dedicated to SS. Mary and Alkeld, is an ancient edifice with an embattled tower, containing six bells. The church has some stained windows recently inserted, also several mural tablets, and a brass, bearing date 1727. The church was made collegiate by King Richard III. in 1476 for a dean, sub-dean, and six canons. The charities produce about £29 10s. per annum. There is a Church of England school for both sexes, built in 1837 by voluntary contributions. Also a Church Sunday-school. The Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists have places of worship. Colonel Thomas Wood is lord of the manor and principal landowner. Fairs are held on 30th March and on the 5th and two following days of November for horses, cattle, and sheep, this last being one of the largest fairs in the N. of England."
[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868]
by Colin Hinson ©2013