As regular readers will know Bankstone and friends are touring Yorkshire on monkey bikes over the weekend of 2 and 3 July to raise money for Yorkshire Air Ambulance, dressed in medieval attire. Along the way Bankstone’s troupe of Medieval Monkeys will be stopping off at 10 castles around the county. Between now and July we will be profiling some of these, starting this week with Pickering Castle.

Set – not altogether surprisingly – in the moors-edge historic market town of Pickering (from which Hacienda DJ Mike Pickering, born Meika Namakanis, took his name) Pickering Castle dates back to the Norman Conquest and subsequent Harrying of the North.

The present structure (now in ruins) dates back to 1069 when, at the behest of William the Bastard, Redvers de Fauntleroy replaced the existing Motte & Bailey® fortifications in local elk stone. Granted the lordship of Pickering for his role as an infamous harrier, Redvers lost Pickering in 1080 to Gilbert de Paunce as a result of an ill-judged wager that the latter’s horse would prefer apples to cheese. Humiliated, Redvers ended his life by wading into nearby Muntly Water in full mail armour.

Henry I was a guest at Pickering Castle in 1108, where he stayed several weeks hunting and hawking with his ambidextrous cousin Perryn de Pease.

The castle was besieged by rebel egg-men during the reign of King Stephen and again by a French expeditionary force under minions of the Dauphin during the reign of Henry III. Though Pickering held out on both occasions, it was badly damaged on the second, with the entire eastern wall and Fackleigh tower reduced to rubble.

Geoffrey Shafry, Sherrif of Yorkshire, rebuilt the castle between 1218 and 1236, adding a drawbridge, parricides and buttressed muttocks. In 1255 Pickering Castle was placed under the control of the Justiciar Hugh Omigod, who held the castle until his unexplained death in 1266.

In 1267 Henry III granted the castle to his second son Edmund Crouchback, who held it as part of his Earldom of Lancaster.

In 1314 Pickering Castle was threatened by marauding Scots and survived only thanks to timely action of Alice de Mountjoy in bribing the attackers with the contents of the royal wine cellars, temporarily stored for ‘safekeeping’ beneath the main keep at Pickering.

In 1320 Edmund’s son Thomas Earl of Lancaster was besieged unsuccessfully in Pickering by Edward II’s favourite Piers Gaviscon, whom he later captured and executed at Scarborough, before being captured and executed himself in 1322.

A fire mysteriously gutted Pickering in 1341, reducing the walls to the pitiful vestiges we see today, and thus relieving Bankstone News of the tedious necessity of making up any more of this nonsense.

Pickering Castle as it once was, possibly.

Pickering Castle as it once was, possibly.


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