History of Castle House and Richmond
The market town of Richmond - from the Norman French 'riche-monte' meaning 'strong hill' - has grown up around the Norman Castle which still dominates the town today.
The building of the castle as a military stronghold commenced in 1071 on land gifted to Alan Rufus (the Red) of Brittany by his kinsman William the Conqueror as reward for his part in the victory over King Harold, and his subsequent support of William as one of his most trusted advisers.
Richmond, North Yorkshire was the first town to be called Richmond. It is the Mother of All Richmonds.
Medieval Richmond - 13th, 14th & 15th Centuries
Important growth in wealth led to Richmond becoming a chartered borough. It had 13 craft guilds (which controlled trade.) It had important markets and fairs.
Two craft guilds exist to this present day. A market is still held every Saturday. (1441 Henry IV granted a royal charter to hold a Saturday market.)
1311 Defensive stone walls built to protect the town from Scottish raids. Two postern gates in the town wall still survive; The Bar postern at the top of Cornforth - Hill and in Friars Wynd the other Postern gate remains.
The Market Place A large area, was originally the outer bailey of the castle. At this time once stood The Stocks and Pillory, for punishing wrongdoers. Also the market cross was a feature in the market. It was a place to gather and a position for selling Butter and Cheese.
The Market Cross was replaced by the present Obelisk.
The Bubonic Plagues -14th and 15th Centuries Richmond and Swaledale had a series of very wet weather during these years, resulting poor harvests. Cattle and Sheep developed disease which led to the population in 1349 being devastated with Bubonic Plague. Lesser epidemics occurred for the next 100 years. A cemetery at Easby Church has a plague stone. This deadly disease wiped out many of the inhabitants and affected the trade and farming industry.
Medieval Religious Houses Richmond had three chapels in the Castle, Trinity Chapel in the Marketplace, later, St.Mary The Virgin Parish Church, three Chapels on the outskirts of the town, a College for Chantry Priests, two small Hospitals and an Anchorite's cell, (Maison Dieu Area.)
Important religious House of the Greyfriars (now only the Bell Tower remains) and the premonstratensian - order of The White Canons at Easby Abbey. A small chapel dedicated to St. James of Compestella existed in what is now St. James Chapel Wynd, which leads from the Green to Bargate.
1536/7 Henry VIII broke allegiance from Rome, which eventually resulted in England becoming English Catholics with Henry head of the Church. Following this, Henry caused the dissolution of the Monasteries, The Abbey at Easby and The Friary both had their roofs and alters shattered, as well as the kitchens laid waste. (Hence Easby Abbey ruins and the limited ruins of the Friary remain.)
All of the above information has been provided by Richmond Online, an excellent website that I am sure you will find extremely useful to visit for more information, not only on the history of Richmond, but also current events, town guide and much more. Please click here to find out more www.richmond.org