THAT the Bishops of Durham had a residence or castle at Crayke from the very earliest times there can be no manner of doubt. The site is so commanding that a prelate who was accustomed to Border warfare would not fail to take possession of it ; and the thickness of the walls of the buildings which still remain, shews that their constructors, even in peaceful Yorkshire, had not forgotten the dangers which were continually menacing them in Northumberland and Durham. Of the construction of the Castle which now crowns the hill of Crayke, the following evidences have occurred to me.
Among the documents till very recently preserved in the office of the auditor of the Bishop of Durham, and now transferred to London, there is a single fabric roll relating to Crayke Castle, which is of considerable importance. It is the account of Robert Ingelard, supervisor of the works of Robert (Neville), Bishop of Durham, at Crayke, in the fourth and fifth years of his episcopate (1441-2). He begins by stating that there were no arrears -nulla quia hic primo. From this we learn that Bishop Neville's work at Crayke began in 1441. The masons were employed, we are told, on the building of a new Kitchen and Larder, between the Old Hall and the Great Chamber. To do this, 1080 freestones were won at the quarries of Yeresly and Brandesby, and were carted thence by the tenants of Crayke. The wages of two masons for thirty-two weeks cost £8 10s. 8d. They were served by five labourers. Lime cost £9 3s. 7½d., and sand £2 9s. 6d. The total expenditure amounted to a little more than £40. In the Roll of William Brandesby, keeper of the Castle and Manor, there is an entry, shewing that in 1449-50 this Kitchen was still unfinished, for there is a payment of £15 9s. l0½d. to Robert Ingelard, clerk of the works, towards its construction. This shews that the progress of the workmen was by no means rapid. In 1457 Bishop Neville died. His badge, two annulets interlaced, was observed by Torre about 1690, in one of the windows of the Parish Church.
We now come to the testimony of Leland, who visited Crayke sixty or seventy years after Bishop Neville's death. His description of the Castle is as follows: "There remaineth at this tyme smaul shew of any Castel that hath beene there. There is a Haul, with other offices, and a great stable voltid with stone, of a meatly auncyent building. The great squar tower, that is thereby, as in the toppe of the hill, and supplement of loggings, is very fair, and was erected totally hy Neville, bishop of Duresme." - (Reg. Hen. VI.)
Between 1560 and 1570 a very important survey was prepared for the Bishop of Durham, accompanied by a ground plan of singular interest and value. These I now give. Remembrances of the House at Crake.
The New Tower.- The Castle of Crake is buylded of harde stone, the walles wherof v fote thicke ; the same is all vaughted underneth throughout, and is thre stovie height above the vaught. This house is all covered over wt leade & in reasonable good reparacion. The grounde-worke of the house or story, wherin the hall is, is about xl fote longe & xxvij fote wyde on the owtesyde ; & the house or story wherin the parler is ys xlij fote longe & xxxiij fote wyde on the owtesyde. Ther is at the entrye into the Castle a highe porche of XV fote one way & ix fote an other waie, wt lodginges over yt, covered wt leade ; and a newe strong grate dore of iron at the entryng in at yt.
Thear is, besydes the Castle, afore, an elder house buylte of stone walles, of Iviij fote long on way & xviij f. wyde, wt a roufe covered wt slate in sore decy, & ye tymber rotten in meny places, of iiij storye height wt the vaughtes, & guttered wt leade rounde about the rouf and imbatteled. Item one other house, joyneng to this story, of xxij fote one waye & xx fote an other waye, which is the kychen. In it ij ranges wt a highe rouf & a vaute under yt covered wt slate and guttered ; the walles wherof crakked & in sore decy, redy to fall, under proped wt stayes & proppes. Item at the sowthwest corner of this house one other house of stone work, the walles of v storye heighte wt the vaughte, wt a flatt rouf of leade cont. xviij fote one way and xij f. an other way, in good reperacion. Item thear is, adjoyneng to this, olde walles of a house, which, as it semyth, hathe ben the hall of theas olde houses before the newe Castle was buylded. Item there is a barme wt a thacked rouf, newe buylded, wether-borded from the eves to the grounde, of xlviij fote longe & xxiiij fo. wyde, of late days buylded. Item thear is an old gatehouse, the rouf wherof is gon all excepte a fewe peces of tymber that is rotten ; but for fier better away than remayne to lose all togyther. In 1587 Bishop Barnes (by compulsion) leased the manor of Crayke for eighty years to Queen Elizabeth, and she granted it in the same year to Sir Francis Walsingham. When the lease reverted to the see, in 1667, Bishop Cosin was then at Durham, and he complains with some sharpness of the way in which the Castle had been injured and dismantled by Charles Allanson, who had been the lessee in the time of the civil war. Subsequent to that time the changes in the fabric have been few. A small portion of the ruins seems to have been removed, and a great quantity of stone has been excavated for building purposes, but there is no reason to suppose that the remains of the ancient Castle are materially different at the present day from what they were in the time of Charles II. We will now see how far the existing remnants of the Castle fall in with the plan and description of the time of Elizabeth, and what is the general history of the fabric as it stands. It will be well to bear in mind that Leland ascribes the erection of the "great square Tower " altogether to Bishop Neville. Now this, situate as it is "in the toppe of the hill," can only be the building which, in the plans and specifications of 1560-70, is called the New Tower, and which is so described in the modern ground-plan which is now given. But we find from Bishop Neville's fabric roll in 1441, that he commenced his building operations in that year with the erection of a new Kitchen and Larder, which were not completed eight years after this. 'Now the Kitchen and the Larder lay between the Great Chamber (the part now used as the Castle), and the Old Hall, which lay northwards on the crest of the hill. The mention of the "Old Hall" presupposes the existence of a new one, and, as this is alluded to in 1441, the first year of Bishop Neville's work, it is plain that he cannot have been the constructor of what is called the New Tower. And we cannot suppose that he could have built it between 1449 and 1457, the year of his death, even if the word "Old" Hall had not been mentioned, because if the Kitchen and Larder took at least eight years to complete, the New Tower, which was of a much larger size, could not have been completed in the same time, unless a large number of additional workmen had been called in to assist. The history of the fabric may be assumed to be as follows. In the beginning of the fifteenth century there was at Crayke a Castle built, probably by Bishop Beck or Kellawe, between 1280 and 1320. In the lower part of the New Tower there is work that may be ascribed to this time. When the fifteenth century began, the Great Chamber, i.e., the present Castle, was built, which, from its shape and battlements, might fairly be regarded as a Tower. After this the New Tower, containing a Hall and Parlour, Avas erected towards the north-east; and then there were appended to the Great Chamber, towards the north, by Bishop Neville, a Kitchen and a Larder. At this time the Hall of the older Castle was in existence on the crest of the hill towards the north-east, and at the Survey of 1560-70, its ruins were above ground. We will now consider the existing remains a little farther in detail. The present Castle, the Great Chamber only of the old building, is the only perfect structure that remains on the hill. For its dimensions my reader must be referred to the accompanying ground plan. It is of very considerable altitude, and there is a view from it towards the west, which leads the eye far away to the Craven and Westmorland hills. It is excellently built, but without any ornament whatever, and the stone bears no mark of decay. It is lighted by a few narrow oblong windows. There is an entrance from the east into the basement story by a rude door, wliich is now built up, but the chief entrance seems to have been by a door in the wall at the north-east corner, opening into the first floor, and which must have been approached by steps of wood or stone. The interior of this house was fitted up with oak panelling, probably by the Allensons, in the seventeenth century. Subsequently it was used, I believe, as a farm house, but in recent years it has been made the residence of Captain Waite, the lord of the manor, who is most anxious to conserve everything that remains of the Castle, of which he is the owner. Adjoining to this building, towards the north, are the remains of Bishop Neville's Kitchen. The basement, with some excellent ribbed vaulting, of which an engraving is given, is perfect, but the kitchen which stood above it is gone. The west wall, with an ancient window in it, was removed not many years ago. The thin slip of building extending from the kitchen towards the north, was probably Bishop Neville's Larder. To the east of this Larder is a mound of earth, covering, we may safely conjecture, the remains of the Early English Hall. We now walk a little to the east and come to the remains of what was called in 1560-70 the New Tower. It contained, among other rooms, a spacious Hall and Parlour, from the windows of which there must have been a magnificent view down the slopes of the park towards Brandesby. Of this building nothing remains save a portion of the basement and a fragment of the story immediately above it : and our knowledge of what previously existed there is derivable only from the ancient Ground Plan and specification. The basement is to a great extent of Early English construction, and upon it the fifteenth-century building has been erected. The entrance towards the west was through a porch with a great gate. There were rooms above it, one of which with its vaulted roof was in existence about 1780, when Hutchinson wrote his History of the County Palatine of Durham. The small building to the north of the Parlour was probably the garderobe. Below it is a deeply sunk pond, into which the drainage of this part of the Castle would flow. There are no remains of the Barn which is mentioned in the specifications, but it was probably a little further to the east. Some traces of the Gatehouse have been discovered near the present entrance into the grounds. The site of the Chapel, which must have been appended to the Castle, is completely forgotten. In the basement of the present building there is an ancient altar-stone, which probably belonged to it, but it is out of its proper place. On the south-east corner of the hill on which the Castle stands, is the Parish Church, a structure of late and uninteresting Perpendicular work. The wall that surrounded the court of the Castle has altogether disappeared. At the time of the Survey of 1560-70 the Castle stood in the centre of a park "containing by the utter ring 2000 roddes, in some places c roddes in bredthe, & in some places lesse, & in many places not XXX roddes over." This was full of oaken timber, with a goodly undergrowth of white thorn, holly, crabs, and hazles. On the west side of the park was what was called a saltery (saltatorium) out of the forest, of the length of seven rods. This was a trap for catching deer. It was a kind of sunk fence which no deer that descended could ascend. This privilege was granted to the Bishop of Durham and his successors by Henry III. It would keep their park constantly supplied with game at the expense of their neighbours.