MIDDLEHAM: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1835.
"MIDDLEHAM, a parish in the western division of the wapentake of HANG, (formerly a market-town), North riding of the county of YORK, 44 miles W.N.W. from York, and 234 N.N.W. from London, containing 880 inhabitants. Middleham was formerly a market-town. The name of this town is said to be derived from its situation in the centre of a number of hamlets. About the year 1190, a splendid castle was built here by Robert Fitz-Ranulph, wherein, according to Stow, Falconbridge, a partisan of Henry VI., was heheaded, in 1471; though Speed says he was executed at Southampton, Edward IV. was confined in this fortress by the Earl of Warwick, but having escaped, he levied an army, and obtained a decisive victory over his opponent, who lost his life at the battle of Barnet. King Edward subsequently gave the castle to his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, whose only son Edward, afterwards Prince of Wales, was born here. The remains of this fabric stand upon a rocky eminence near the town 5 the ancient Norman keep is surrounded by a quadrangular building, measuring two hundred and ten feet by one hundred and seventy-five, and flanked by a square tower at each angle. The constableship, now merely a nominal office, is vested in the Duke of Leeds. The town is situated ori a gentle eminence rising from the river Ure: the houses are indifferently built, and the streets are neither lighted nor paved, but the inhabitants are well supplied with water from springs. About half a mile from it is Middleham moor, a noted place for training horses, either for the field or the race-, course. Wool-combing affords employment to a few persons, but the majority are employed in agriculture. The market, now disused, was on Monday. Fairs are held on Easter-Monday and Whit-Monday, and November 5th and 6th, for live stock, &c. Two constables are appointed at the court leet, which is held annually. The petty sessions for the western division of the wapentake of Hang are held here. The living forms a deanery of itself, and is a royal peculiar, rated in the kings books at £15. 9. 4., and in the patronage of the Crown. The church, which is dedicated to St. Mary and St. Alkeld, is a neat edifice, in the ancient style of English architecture. It was made collegiate by Richard III., when Duke of Gloucester, for a dean, six chaplains, four clerks, and six choristers; the incumbent retains the title of dean, and is installed with the usual ceremonies; he possesses the power of proving wills, and some other rights of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, within his parish, together with a court, an official, and a seal of office: but, owing to the peculiarity of his situation, as being exempt from the jurisdiction of Dotn ordinary and metropolitan, he is unable to give a title for holy orders. There are places of worship for rri- mitive and Wesleyan Methodists. A small sum was given by William Tennant, in 1792, for the instruction of poor children; and it is now in contemplation to erect a National school."
[Transcribed by Mel Lockie © from
Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of England 1835]