Bolton Castle

North Yorkshire


Part Two

" None should forfeit "


William le Scrope, eldest son of Richard 1st Baron Scrope of Bolton was born around 1350, possibly 1351. It can't have been much later than this as he is with the Teutonic Knights in Lithuania and then after with John of Gaunt in his dash to Harfleur in 1369. William was part of Gaunt's retinue when he rode into Guienne in July 1373 and was back there with him again in 1378. He was made Seneschal of Gascony between 1383-1392 and combined it with the Captaincy of Brest between 1386-89. During this period he was continuously absent from England but at some point committed a crime or bad deed against the Bishop of Durham. He was ordered by King Richard II to offer the Bishop a jewel to the value of £500 as a good will gesture but little else is known of the matter. On his return in 1393 the King made him vice-chamberlain of the Household and retained his services for life, as was the fashion of the day. On being made vice-chamberlain he was granted the castle and manor of Marlborough in Wiltshire.

In the same year his father purchased for him the Isle of Man from the earl of Salisbury giving him the official title 'Dominus de Man'. He quickly became a favourite of King Richard and started to pick up titles and land from disinherited nobles and in the process was made earl of Wiltshire. This didn't go down too well with some of the Barons and did not bode well for Scrope. In 1394 he became Constable of Beaumaris, a Knight of the Garter and made Constable of Dublin Castle. William also took a prominent role in repealing the patent granted to Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford, John of Gaunt's son, gaining succession to his titles and land should his father die while he was in exile. This was a bad move by Scrope, as when Henry returned from exile in 1399 he captured William le Scrope along with Sir John Bussy and Sir Henry Grene after they taken refuge in the City of Bristol. The three were executed immediately by Bolingbroke and Scrope's head was carried in a white basket to London where it was placed on London Bridge. Later, when Bolingbroke became King Henry IV, the sentences were confirmed by Parliament with all their possessions and titles forfeit to the crown.

Coat of Arms of William le Scrope as King of the Isle of Man

By this time the Castle at Bolton was nearing completion, but the antics of Richard's son William had caused him a new problem. Being the eldest son, William was due to inherit his father's title and property. Since his father was still alive and had spent most of his life securing estates and titles over the years and also having just finished his magnificent castle at Bolton he was not happy about seeing it all suddenly disappear. On 19th November 1399 he appeared in the first Parliament of Henry IV.

"Richard Lord Scrope rose, and with great humility, and weeping bitterly, prayed the King that nothing which might be done in that Parliament might produce the disinheritance of himself or of his children "

The King then acknowledged that Richard and his sons were honourable but he could not forgive William. He then stated that Richard and his heirs would not suffer or lose lands.

"I do not wish to have any of the lands which belong to you or to your children now living, but I consider you, and have always deemed you a loyal knight ..... and that the Statute which had been made that none should forfeit after his death should remain in force"

Richard le Scrope 1st Lord Scrope of Bolton was around seventy years old by this time and soon retired to his castle in Bolton. This great man was probably without doubt one of the most honourable and honest men of his age and he passed away on the 30 May 1403 at Pyshoo in Hertfordshire, aged about seventy-three. He was buried at Easby Abbey in Richmond, North Yorkshire and after his death his second son, Roger le Scrope, became the 2nd Lord Scrope of Bolton. He died in the same year as his father in 1403 and his eldest son Richard, who was born in 1393, became the 3rd Lord Scrope of Bolton at the age of 10 years.

I shall now leave the Scropes of Bolton to return to the Scopes of Masham for a moment. Two members of the Masham family are of particular interest and were both executed after getting caught up in the politics of the early fifteenth century.

Bolton Castle from the SW.

Richard le Scrope of Masham, Archbishop of York was born around 1350 and was the fourth son of Henry 1st Lord Scrope of Masham. In November 1375 he became an official of Bishop Arundel at Ely and in 1376 warden of the free chapel in Tickhill Castle, then held by John of Gaunt. He was ordained a Priest in March 1377 and is said to have held a canonary at York. The following year he became chancellor of Cambridge University and in 1382 he went to Rome and was appointed as the Dean of Chichester but was later removed by King Richard II in favour of his confessor, Thomas Rushook.

In 1386 Pope Urban VI promoted him by bull at Genoa and he was appointed Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield. In August 1387 the ceremony was carried out and he was installed in the presence of Richard II. The following year Scrope travelled to Rome to seek the Pope's consent for King Richard's pet project of canonising Edward II and on his return Richard spent the winter with him at Lichfield on his way to the Shrewsbury Parliament. Richard le Scrope remained a favourite of the King and on the death of Robert Waldby, Archbishop of York in 1398 King Richard ignored the choice of the Chapter and at his request the Pope gave permission for Scrope to take the post.

When Bolingbroke took the throne from Richard II, Archbishop Scrope joined the Archbishop of Canterbury in the enthroning of the new King. His loyalty it seems was shaken though by the discontent of the Percy family who were great benefactors of his Cathedral in York. There is no evidence to indicate that Scrope was anti-Lancastrian although he is mentioned in Shakespeare's Henry IV as appearing to be. The archbishop took great exceptions to Henry IV's charges on the church and although not the instigator of the armed uprising against the king, he was one of the leaders, albeit with a background role. The archbishop was caught in May 1405 at the head of six thousand men at Shipton Moor, near York, by the King's army headed by Ralph Neville, 1st earl Westmoreland and immediately entered negotiations. All seemed to be going well, with the Archbishop, Westmoreland, and the two parties enjoying a drink together in front of their men. Once the archbishop's followers had dispersed, Westmoreland laid his hand on Scrope's shoulder and formally arrested him.

Henry IV wasted no time in getting rid of his troublesome archbishop and although Scrope pleaded his innocence, he was executed in York on 19th May 1405, his body returned to York Minster and laid to rest in the Lady Chapel. A cult following soon began at the tomb of the first archbishop to die a traitor's death and his tomb can still be seen in York Minster today.

Henry Bolingbroke, earl of Hereford and later King Henry IV

Henry 3rd Lord Scrope of Masham was the third member of the family to be executed and probably the most famous of the Scropes today, thanks to William Shakespeare's play, King Henry V.

Henry le Scrope was born about 1386, the eldest son of Stephen, 2nd Lord Scrope of Masham. He fought at the Battle of Shrewsbury with Henry IV and Prince Harry in 1403. He and his father carefully disassociated themselves from Archbishop Scrope of York who was Stephen's brother and Henry's uncle and, after the suppression of Thomas Mowbray's rebellion in 1405, Scrope received his manors of Thirsk and Hovingham. In May 1409 he executed an important mission in France with Henry Beaufort and also had a very close relationship with Prince Henry of Monmouth, later to become King Henry V.

He was created Treasurer in 1410 and in the same year was awarded the Order of the Garter. He married Joan, widow of the Duke of York in 1411 and it was this act that some have said is when he changed his allegiance but there is no evidence to support this claim. In 1413 he accompanied Bishop Henry Chichele on a mission to form a league with John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy and headed another in 1414 to the embassy of the French King Charles IV. At the end of April 1415 he was contracted to serve King Henry V in France with 30 men-at-arms and ninety archers under his banner.

Henry le Scrope always seemed a very loyal subject and Shakespeare even describes him as being a 'Bedfellow' of King Henry V, which in all probability was quite true. He was a very close advisor to Henry V and was frequently found in the company of the King as one of his inner circle. As late as July 22nd 1415, Henry V had added his name to the list of trustees who would administer his private estate if he himself never returned from France. His complicity, therefore, in the plot by the earl of Cambridge and Sir Thomas Grey, discovered at Southampton on 31st of July in 1415, caused general surprise everywhere.

Scrope pleaded that he had become an accessory in order to betray the conspiracy to the crown. There were many rumours as to why he became involved but the real reason will probably never be known. The three men were moved to a prison in Southampton and the trial was held on August 2nd. By this time the King had obtained written confessions from Cambridge and Grey but Scrope still pleaded his innocence.

Cambridge and Scrope, as barons of the realm, demanded a trial by their peers and, with all the King's army gathered at Southampton for the expedition to Harfleur, it wasn't too difficult to get twenty peers for a trial. On the 5th of August the duke of Clarence pronounced sentence, the three conspirators were to be drawn, hung and beheaded but, by the King's mercy, the hanging was remitted and Cambridge and Grey were also excused the drawing. Sir Henry le Scrope alone suffered the infamy of the traitors' hurdle and was drawn through the streets of Southampton to the north gate. Scrope's head was later spiked on Micklegate in York and Grey's on the Tower at Newcastle as a grim warning to their Northern friends. King Henry V was said to have later wept at the betrayal of his most trusted and closest friend.

Side entrance at the castle

I shall now concentrate on the Scropes of Bolton for the remainder of the middle ages. As mentioned, Roger le Scrope became the 2nd Lord Scrope of Bolton on the death of his father Richard but died three months later. Sir Roger had 3 children, Richard, Thomas and Maud.

Richard his eldest son became 3rd Lord Scrope when he was only ten years old. He was made a ward of Ralph Neville, 1st earl of Westmoreland and later fought at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. He married Margaret Neville, sister of Cecily Neville in 1418 but died two years later on 29th August 1420 while at the siege of Rouen. He left two sons, Henry who became 4th Baron Scrope of Bolton and Richard, who became Bishop of Carlisle.

Henry was born in 1418 and was only aged two when his father died. Like his father before him, he too became a ward of the Neville's. He was first summoned to Parliament in 1441, during the reign of Henry VI and married Elizabeth le Scrope, daughter of John, 4th Lord Scrope of Masham. They had four children with his eldest son John becoming the 5th Lord Scrope of Bolton on his death in 1459.

John the 5th Lord was born in 1435 and inherited the Yorkist politics of his father. He fought with Warwick at Northampton and was seriously wounded at the Battle of Towton the following year in 1461. Henry VI is reputed to have come to Bolton after losing the Battle of Hexham and stayed for two days at the castle and on his departure was captured by the earl of Warwick who conveyed him to the Tower where he was later murdered.

John later supported the earl of Warwick when he rebelled against Edward IV. He was pardoned but later appears at the Battle of Bosworth fighting under Richard III and was again pardoned, this time by Henry VII. He later finds himself mixed up in further revolt and Scrope, thinking that the people of York would support the Yorkist Pretender, joined with Thomas, Lord Scrope of Masham and marched on the city. No support was received and they were soon defeated and both Scropes, it seems, were lucky to get away and being fined, John being ordered by the King to remain within 22 miles of London, " So the King could keep his eye on him ". He later became a diplomat and was sent on many missions by the King. He died on 17 August 1498 and was the last of the medieval Scropes of Bolton.

Looking into the Courtyard from high in the SW corner of the castle

Sir Henry, 6th Lord Scrope of Bolton married Elizabeth, daughter of the earl of Northumberland and apart from him having six children, little else is known about him. His eldest son also Henry became the 7th Lord Scrope of Bolton and was a knight of the Bath at the coronation of Henry VIII. The records tell us that he fought at the battle of Flodden in 1513 with a company of Wensleydale archers and he also had a contemporary poem written about him. Henry had five children, the first four died in childhood. John was the last born and he inherited his father's title as 8th Lord Scrope of Bolton.

John reluctantly got involved in an uprising in the North named 'The Pilgrimage of Grace' which was led by a young lawyer named Robert Aske. Scrope initially refused to join and sought refuge at his father in-law's castle at Skipton after they threatened to kidnap his family and burn down his dwellings. Skipton was then put under siege and Scrope in the end reluctantly agreed to join them. Aske was later executed by Henry VIII and the leaders rounded up. The Abbot of Jervaulx, Adam Sedberg, sought refuge at Bolton Castle and when the King's commissioners arrived he fled to Witton Fell. The King's men then wrote to the king informing him they had:

' Fired Bolton Castle '

John le Scrope was forgiven by the king because of the circumstances he was forced to join and later died in 1549 with Bolton being inherited by his eldest son Henry, who became the 9th Lord Scrope of Bolton.

Henry was Warden of the West Marches and Captain of Carlisle. In 1568 Mary Queen of Scots landed at Workington after her defeat at the Battle of Langside and travelled from there to Cockermouth and then on to Carlisle. Scrope was at court at the time but hurried north with Sir Francis Knollys to take charge of her. On the 16th July she was moved to Bolton Castle with only the clothes she was wearing. The castle was made as comfortable as possible for Mary and it is reported that Sir George Bowes sent her tapestries and turkey rugs and the earl of Northumberland sent her venison.

Scrope wrote to the earl of Moray to ask for Mary's belongings to be sent down to Bolton and after a second letter, all of her goods arrived which also contained 'Her Cloth of Estate,' which was hung in the Great Hall. She appears to have been treated well during her stay at Bolton with many of the northern Catholic nobility, who were later involved in the plot against Elizabeth, visiting her at Bolton. Mary was moved from Bolton Castle further into the realm during a snowstorm on 26 January 1569, after a stay of just over six months. Although Scrope was a Catholic and his wife sister to the Duke of Norfolk, he didn't get involved with any of the plots against Elizabeth and was always loyal to her. Scrope was later charged with arresting many of the conspirators which he carried out successfully for his Protestant Queen.

Henry's son Thomas became the 10th Lord Scrope and his son Emmanuel became the 11th and last Lord Scrope of Bolton. Emmanuel was also earl of Sunderland and was created Lord President of the King's council in the North. On his death in 1630 he left everything to his "natural children."

John Scrope inherited Bolton and lived here during the troubles of the civil war when the castle was held for the Royalists. It fell to Major-General Poyntz on 5 November 1645 with John Scrope being allowed to leave for his property in Langar, Notts with four of his servants. John died of the plague in London in 1646 aged 21 and the following year Bolton Castle was ordered by Parliament to be:

"Rendered un-tenantable"

The Scropes of Bolton are effectively ended at this point but Mary, Sir Emmanuel's natural daughter, married Charles Powlett, 6th Marquis of Winchester who later became the 1st duke of Bolton. The castle at Bolton which had been slighted by Poyntz in 1645 was no longer habitable so a new manor house was built in Wensley village, five miles from the castle.

Bolton Castle is now in the ownership of the 7th Baron Bolton.

© MWC 2000

Bolton Castle additional information.

Bolton Castle is owned by 7th Baron Bolton, Richard Orde-Powlett.

Hours of opening - March to November 10am - 5pm.

For Winter times call 01969-623981.

Entry - Adults £4-00, Children & OAP's £3-00, Family Ticket (2+2) £10-00.

Telephone - 01969-623981.

Local Tourist Information - Leyburn, 6 miles, Aysgarth, 3 miles, Reeth, 5 miles.

OS Map - Outdoor Leisure series No 30 - Yorkshire Dales. Landranger series No 92-93 & 99.

Public Transport to Castle Bolton - Via the Dales Bus Service, Northallerton to Hawes, every hour from Leyburn.

By Car - 6 miles west of Leyburn, just off the A684.

Bolton Castle

Bolton Castle is the very epitome of a medieval castle, standing proud in a commanding position with its magnificent towers and superb courtyard. It's quite easy to imagine what life must have been like living at Bolton. You can almost hear the sound of iron-shod hooves, clattering on the courtyard stone, or the sounds of the blacksmith and armourer, busy hammering away at their anvils while the Sergeant-at-arms barks his orders to the guard outside. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Bolton Castle.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Bolton and very soon felt completely immersed in its charm and splendour. This is a superb castle and it has something for all, with many hidden secrets to be found within its walls and, although now partly in ruin, there is much to be seen that has remained completely unspoilt. Some of the household suites are magnificent with Mary, Queen of Scots' chamber open for viewing. Some of these suites have had some alterations done during the Tudor period, but Bolton essentially remains a medieval castle and feels it. There are no pretty rooms decorated in fine paintings and jewels like some of those found in other medieval buildings, you will find Bolton almost as raw as the day it was built and all the better for it. At one time though it probably looked like a small palace fit for a King, or at least a Lord Chancellor of England.

A tour around the castle takes a lot longer than one would imagine, with small corridors suddenly appearing that transport you off to yet another wing and more beautiful rooms. The same can also be said of the ruined part of the castle, which also holds the castle's dark and cold dungeon room below the floor, not a place to linger for long. It is possible to reach the top of one of the towers and the visitor is then rewarded with some fine views across the castle's estate and the Fells, which of course in the middle ages were covered with the dense forest of Wensleydale.

Bolton is another castle that is very suitable for children, where they can soon lose themselves in it's myriad of hidden rooms but, for people with disabilities, access to any of the upper stories is very restricted due to the narrowness of the corridors and uneven steps. Care should be taken in some of the ruined areas and at the top of the towers. The gardens are nicely kept by the gardener, but my visit was very early in the season, so I didn't get the opportunity to see it at its best and in full bloom as it will be later in the year.

In summing up my visit to Bolton Castle, I found it one of the most interesting and enjoyable castles I have had the pleasure of visiting and I found the history of the Scrope family to be one of the most fascinating that I have ever studied.

There was only one downside to my visit to Bolton and that was that my camera decided to play dead on the day and refused to work. The pictures shown were taken with a £5-99 Kodak disposable camera so I am unable to show you some shots of the rooms inside as it didn't have a flash. The quality is not as good as I would have liked to have shown you, but considering what they were taken with, they have come out far better than I expected. I will return soon to Bolton to address this and give myself the great pleasure of another visit.

I would like to thank Mary Fisher for proof reading this for me several times after I had changed the content.

© MWC 2000


Sources on Bolton Castle were obtained from;

The Chronicles of Jean Froissart - Edited by Geoffrey Brereton.

The Scrope and Grosvenor Controversy - Edited by N H Nicholas.

Chronicles of the Age of Chivalry - Edited by Elizabeth Hallam.

Historia Anglicana -The Conspiracy at Southampton in 1415 - Walsingham.

English Historical Documents - Edited by A R Myers & David C Douglas.

Geoffrey Chaucer - V B Richmond.

Richard II and Henry V - William Shakespeare.

The Story of Bolton Castle - George Jackson.

Bolton Castle - The Hon. Harry Orde-Powlett.

The Castle in Medieval England and Wales - Colin Platt.

Building in England down to 1540 - L F Salzman.

The English Dictionary of National Biography - Edited by George Smith.

The Three Edwards: War and State in England 1272-1377 - Michael Prestwich.

King Edward III - Michael Packe.

The Black Prince - Hubert Cole.

The Hundred Years War - Anne Curry.

Literary Culture at the Court of Richard II - V J Scattergood *

Chaucer's Knight, the English Aristocracy and the Crusade - Maurice Keen *

* Both taken from English Court Culture in the Later Middle Ages - Edited by V J Scattergood and J W Sherborne.

Richard II - Nigel Saul.

John the Fearless - Richard Vaughan.

King Henry V - Harold F Hutchison.

Henry V - Christopher Allmand.

The Knight in Medieval England 1000-1400 - Peter Coss.

The Wars of the Roses - J R Lander.

Ordnance Survey Maps - Crown Copyright.

Reader's Digest Touring guide to Britain.

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and must not be reproduced in any format without permission


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