Checking through my research notes and photos for my current writing project – ‘Renegade’ – the sequel to my novel ‘Renaissance – The Fall and Rise of a King,’ #amwriting #histfic I came across these photos of Ravensworth Castle and the village of Kirby Ravensworth (also known as Kirby-on-the-Hill) which I took last summer. Alongside them were my notes that contain some interesting, little known details which I think may interest history enthusiasts, especially those interested in the Wars of the Roses and King Richard III.
A mile south west of the village stand the ruins of the substantial castle-stronghold of the Fitzhughs. Close kin to the powerful Nevilles who were of course cousins to Richard Duke of York and his sons Edward IV and Richard III. The ruins stand within the remnants of a 200 acre park described in a 16th century manuscript as: ‘Ravenswathe Castel in a Parke on a little hilling ground…iii Miles North west from Richemont and therby is a praty village…and by hit cummith a Bekke caulled Ravenswathe Bekke.’ From there, the route rises 1.7 miles up Stonygate Bank and situated prominently on a mound   above the road is the church of St Peter and St Felix. It faces a square village green; clustered around are an ancient grammar school, almshouses, manor house and various cottages. The church dates back to the early 12th century but most of the building is late 14th/early 15th century. So…you are now asking ‘what is the link to king Richard III – apart from the family link of course?’ Well…Richard’s closest most trusted friend – Francis Viscount Lovell (whose guardian was Richard Neville Earl of Warwick) was married at a very young age (around 8/9) to Anne Fitzhugh – he lived for some considerable time in the castle with his in-laws. When his mother died his sisters joined him there. I am willing to bet that he knew the village and the church very well indeed. I’m also willing to bet that Richard III – when he was lord of the North and living in Middleham Castle (it would have been half a day’s ride away) will also have spent time here as not only did Francis Lovell live with the Fitzhughs he was also Lord of the Manor of Bedale (another half day’s ride away). Sadly, much of the castle has disappeared but one can still see the remains of the moat and flat valley of the parkland. The village itself would still be very recognisable to Francis and Richard – as can be seen from the photos. I remember spending a very happy day taking photos and exploring the village – imagining the two young men there.

Kirby Ravensworth and Ravensworth Castle

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