Yorkshire's Ruined Castles: J L Illingworth - 1938 - Page 137-138


In the year 685 King Egfrid gave Crayke to St. Cuthbert and through thirteen and a half centuries this village in the heart of Yorkshire remained a part of Co. Durham by virtue of its being vested in the Prince Bishops. In 1832 it was attached to Yorkshire for Parliamentary purposes, in 1837 it ceased to be a part of the diocese of Durham and in 1844 it became Yorkshire "through and through".

The Saxon bishops of Durham seem to have had an aula or manor house here which the Norman bishops probably continued to use until Hugh Pudsey raised a mount-and-bailey castle on its site ; this was probably after the dismantling of the Episcopal castle at Northallerton by Henry II in 1174. The bishops held the manor of Howden in the East Riding and Crayke would be a useful halting place on the journey thence to Durham. John, that most restless of monarchs, stayed at the castle in 1209, 1210 and twice in 1211 and there are records of visits by Henry II and the first three of the Edwards.

Hugh Pudsey's mount-and-bailey, of which only traces can now be seen, developed into one of those slightly fortified houses commonly built by medieval bishops. The existing remains are curious, consisting of two separate blocks, about 25 yards apart, each block being a self contained manor house with great hall, solar and offices. There would originally be a stone curtain wall of some description and a gatehouse but these have disappeared.

The westernmost of the remaining blocks of buildings has been in part restored and is used as a residence. It consisted originally of a range comprising hall, tower, kitchen and great chamber. The hall and tower have gone and only the vaulted basement of the kitchen remains. The great chamber building intact, however, and has been converted into a house. It is a massive building about 70 feet long by 28 broad, four storeys in height, with the wall set back at each floor, and has an embattled parapet with a turret at each end. This building and the kitchen attached to it were the work of Bishop Neville in 1441. The hall was presumably in existence earlier as it was referred to as the "Old Hall" at the time of the building of the great chamber and kitchen.

The second block of buildings, which lies to the north east, again consisted of hall, great chamber, and offices and was built towards the end of the same century. Of this block there remains the S.E. angle of the hall with its entrance porch and portions of the vaulted rooms under the hall.

Parliament ordered the buildings to be made untenable in 1646.


Part of the castle is in use as a private residence and the public are not admitted except by special permission.