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Wheldrake

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Coldric; Queldric; Qweldric; Queldrike; Queldrik

In the civil parish of Wheldrake.
In the historic county of Yorkshire.
Modern Authority of York.
1974 county of North Yorkshire.
Medieval County of Yorkshire Ainsty & York.

OS Map Grid Reference: SE683450
Latitude 53.89654° Longitude -0.96255°

Wheldrake has been described as a probable Timber Castle, and also as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.

Description

The lord of Wheldrake built a small castle there before 1149, when the king authorized the citizens of York to destroy it. In 1200 Richard Malbis was licensed to fortify a castle that he was building, but its completion was prevented, again at the instance of York. The castle probably stood on a spur of higher ground near the flood-plain of the Derwent, in a position to command the river. It is possible that a manor-house stood at this site after 1200 and it may have belonged to the Darels, who as undertenants of Fountains abbey had a manor-house in 1361. The manor-house of the capital manor probably lay at the east end of the village and it seems likely that it became the site of the abbey's grange. (VCH ER Yorks)

Stephen sought further to enlist their support by handing over to them for destruction a fortalice at Wheldrake on the Derwent (E.R.) which commanded the south-eastern approaches to the city (VCH City York)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1199 (Click on the date for details of this licence.) but then revoked.

Comments

A moated site at Storwood is suggested by Renn as a location for Wheldrake. The Storwood site is not, and never has been, in Wheldrake parish and is on the other side of the River Derwent, which is and, probably always has been, a district boundary making it highly unlikely anyone would ever have thought it was in Wheldrake (and certainly not the people of York)
In Early Yorkshire Charters (vol. xi p. 192 No. 164) is recorded a grant of land by Geoffrey Darel 'ante portam castellarii de Queldrik'. This is translated as 'before the gate of the precinct of the castle of Wheldrake' but castellarii may well be translated as village in this context (see Abigail Wheatley's The Idea of the Castle (2004, York Medieval Press) p. 23-4). It is notable that Geoffrey reserves thatching material for his houses in Wheldrake (domos nostras in Queldrike). Thus this charter does not actual mention a castle it mentions a castellarii which might be translated as castlery which itself might mean village. Darel's dwelling is called a house. However, Castellarii is an unusual term and this suggest that Darel's house and/or manor of Wheldrake was unusual in some way. Gatehouse suspects, based on analogue, that it was a house dressed up with military symbolism such as battlements and a gatehouse. It was a castle (with some thatched roofs!) but not a 'military' building. The charter implies that the 'castle' was in the village and not some distance away and this is additional evidence to dismiss Renn suggestion of Storwood as the site.
Armitage states 'Thicket Priory, in Yorkshire, occupied the site of the castle of Wheldrake' but does not cite an authority for this statement. This site, 1 mile SE of Wheldrake at SE697435, has many of the difficulties of the Storwood site. However, although now in Thorganby it does seem to have been in Wheldrake parish but seems to date from before 1200, when it was founded by Roger FitzRoger. According to Dugdale the precinct of the castle and bailiwick of Wheldrick was given to the nuns of Thicket before 1214 when they handed it over to Fountains Abbey and there are other possible analogues for sites of small disputed castles been given to religious houses (i.e. Trentham, Staffordshire and, more questionably, Bridlington Castleburn).
The destruction of lordly property as a 'punishment' and method of limiting lordly power has a long history. Justifying this destruction by using language which emphasises the supposed military threat of such property is also fairly standard (cf. post English Civil War slighting). In reality the threat on a small castle at this location to York per se is not significant (fore instance it does not dominate either a road or the River Ouse). The real threat is the kudos it would give to its owner and the power that might then given for that person to incite the mob (Richard Malbis was one of the ringleaders of the mob that massacred the Jews of York in 1190 - he, of course, had borrowed heavily from that community). However such a lord would want a house dressed up with the trappings of his military status and such trappings need not necessarily be sham.
Given map reference is for parish church of St Helen although the adjacent Wheldrake Hall may well occupy the site of the medieval manorial centre.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 23/02/2016 10:03:52

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