Conisborough Castle by Ivanhoe

March 1923

Mexborough & Swinton Times, March 14

Conisborough Castle by Ivanhoe

In all probability Richard, Duke of York, was born within the precincts of our castle, and there can be no doubt that he played a conspicuous part in English affairs during the earlier years of the reign of Henry the Sixth. He met his death at the battle of Wakefield, where the Lancastrian arms were victorious and the head of the unfortunate duke was sent for display on the walls of York.

His son, Edward, however, took up the struggle, and though only 19 years of age at the date of his father´s death, he was proclaimed King in the month of February, 1461. Thus once more the Castle of Conisbrough passed into the possession of the crown, and it is most probable that it was from this date that the process of neglect and consequent decay began. When fixed on the throne, the gay and joyous young King would have no use for such a stronghold as our castle. The revenues from the estate were needed to help to support the royal dignity, but no thought would be wasted upon a building that he did not need. Left tenantless and unrepaired, time and weather would gradually work its ruin. When Henry the Seventh married Elizabeth, of York, thus uniting the two families- the Red rose and the White- Parliament declared that all the estates settled on Edmund Langley should for ever be annexed to the crown.

In those days, however, Parliaments were subservient, and after being attached to the crown during the reigns of Henry VII, and his much married son Henry VIII, the site of the castle, and all the lands therewith connected, were given by Queen Elizabeth to her relative Henry Carey, who had just been created Baron Hunsdon, no doubt with the view to enable him to support his new dignity. This grant was made in the third year of Elizabeth´s reign.

Thus, although Parliament had decreed that the lands of Conisbrough should for ever be a possession of the crown, they passed once again into private ownership, and the remained in the Hunsdon family until the extinction of the male line, when, with other possessions, they were inherited by Lady Mary Carey, who married a judge in the reign of Charles. On her death the estate of Conisbrough came into the possession of a grand-daughter, Carey Newton, who married a gentleman of Norfolk, named Coke. A younger son of this marriage inherited Conisbrough, and on his death in 1737, the estate was sold, as directed in his will, the purchaser being the fourth Duke of Leeds. Through the marriage of a lady descended from this nobleman the Conisbrough castle and estates came into the possession of their present owners, Lord and Lady Yarbrough.

During the struggle between King Charles and his Parliament, Conisbrough was not garrisoned, and it is probably due to this fact that it owes its escape from destruction, and still remains one of the finest examples of Norman defence works in the north of England. The castle of Conisbrough is not mentioned in the schedule of the Order of the House of Commons in 1646 for the dismantling of the castles of the North. Tickhill, Pontefract, Sheffield, Sandal, are examples of the thoroughness with which this order was executed by the adherents of the Parliamentary cause.


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