Monday, March 29, 2010


Hellifield Peel Castle


Hellifield Peel Castle copyright by Karen and Francis Shaw Hellifield Peel Castle is the home and "restored from ruin to castle" Bed & Breakfast by Karen and Francis Shaw in the Yorkshire Dales, close to Skipton.

The origins of the castle date from 850 CE as a Saxon Aisled Hall House. The Saxon Hall was encased in stone in 1150 and modernized into a Norman Manor House. In 1250, a solar tower was added by Elias de Knole. The main house is from early 1300s and was built by the last Templar Sir John Harcourt. Chapel Bedroom (see below) was part of this enhancement.

Chapel Bedroom (left) and Old Bedroom (right) with original 17th century four-poster beds. Chapel Bedroom also has the original 14th century vaults and arches.
Hellifield Peel Castle copyright by Karen and Francis Shaw Hellifield Peel Castle copyright by Karen and Francis Shaw

The Hammerton family owned it in the late 14th century and added towers and crenelations in 1440s. Hellifield Peel Castle copyright by Karen and Francis ShawSome of the Hammertons ran afoul Henry VIII with predictable results. The Crown was happy to annex their vast holdings from Lancaster to York.

The castle was restored to the Hammertons in 1570 and extensive construction was undertaken to expand and modernize the place. The current turrets and mullioned windows date from this period. In 1780, large Georgian windows and paneled ceilings were added, the interiors updated, and a stone cantilevered staircase installed. In 1914, the castle was leased to Sir William Nicholson, who along with architect Sir Edwin Lutyens set about salvaging the ruins.

Hellifield Peel Castle copyright by Karen and Francis ShawUnfortunately, the up-to-do castle came to the attention of the Ministry of Defense during World War II to house POWs. The ruined castle was then shunted off to the Hammertons briefly before being sold to Harry Lund of Otley. Lund and archeologist Tot Lord stripped the castle of all accoutrements, including paneling, and sold them piecemeal to all comers. In 1965, the Hargreaves bought it and sold it in 2004 to the Shaws.

The name Peel is a corruption of the word pale, which meant within a safe enclosure of wooden palisades, from whence the term beyond the pale arises meaning to be outside the safe area. The name Hellifield comes from the Norse name Helgsfield or Hellsfield, where hell means holy and also representative of Hell, the Norse Goddess of the Underworld.

To raise money and support from Grand Designs on BBC's Channel 4, Francis sent off this teaser: "Restoring castle in the dales, total ruin, previous owner hung drawn and quartered. Are you interested?" To his surprise, they were.

Survey Plans from 1772 that the Shaws are using, among other records, for their resoration work.
Hellifield Peel Castle copyright by Karen and Francis Shaw

Important personages, such as Bonny Prince Charlie during the 1745 uprising, the last Templar Knight Sir John Harcourt, and the Duke of Devonshire have stayed here.

To follow the latest doings of Peel Castle or to book a stay, visit them on Facebook or Twitter.


8 comments:

Diane Gaston said...

I want to stay there! What a fascinating place, Keira!

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, Keira, you come up with some fascinating places! I'm with Diane, I wanna stay there - hey, Diane, maybe we could have a writers' retreat there. Although I'm not sure how much actual writing I'd do!

Nicola Cornick said...

I love the way that places like this can trace their roots back such a long way and that so many different houses have their "footprint" on the site. It's no wonder you can feel the history when you visit a place like that.

Keira Soleore said...

Diane and Fo: Wouldn't it be a marvelous place to stay for a spell? Jo Beverley is said to have moved to Yorkshire now. I wonder if she's been in to see this place. I should ask her.

Fo, I came upon this by chance. On Facebook, I follow a historian, who puts up fascinating links and snippets. One such was about Peel. So naturally, I had to read more and find out more. Ahem. Our list of places to visit simply gets longer and longer, with no dent being made into it.

Nicola, my house is 14 years old. And here, when I talk about my house, I say it's not a new house. Heh. I simply cannot wrap my mind around how I would feel living in a place 83 times older.

Oh, and Nicola, I have Ashdown coming up next week. :)

Avril Hunt said...

I'm posting this comment from the 'Old' Bedroom :-) I can tell you from first-hand experience what a wonderful place this is & its been lovely to be able to share their magnificent home for 2 nights.

I would highly recommend a visit.

Keira Soleore said...

Oh, how lovely! Thank you, Avril, for that live-on-the-spot reporting. And welcome to my blog. I do hope some day, I'll be able to experience it first-hand rather than glom via the Internet.

Paul said...

When you stayed at Peel Castle, did you get the chance to visit the out buildings that are the former cottages and stable barn of the estate? If so, did you get to take pictures of those buildings? I can't find any information about them. I talked to the owner of Peel Castle about them. But they seemed very hesitant about it as if they do not have a good relationship with the people who live there. Let me know if you saw those buildings.

Alex Cleverley said...

Lovely photos. Sir William Nicholson was my 2nd cousin 3x removed (rather distant - his grandmother Sophia was the sister of my 3x great grandfather John Marshall) and I am very interested in the Nicholson family. Sir William was living at The Peel in 1911 so I was interested to see it was leased to him in 1914, perhaps this was a renewal of a lease?