Storms over the winter have caused extensive damage to the roof of one of the 16th century barns at the entrance to Markenfield Hall in Yorkshire, one of a remarkable suite of buildings which surround the moated medieval manor. Grants have been offered to offset the cost of repairs.
Calm times in the Middle Ages
The 14th century moated house at Markenfield is an extraordinarily atmospheric house and a rare survival of a medieval manor with one of the most unexpected approaches to any historic building in England. Shielded between two Tudor barns is an arched gatehouse reached across a stone drawbridge. Beyond lies the courtyard with domestic offices on the left and the dwelling house on the right. The house feels remote, yet in reality it is only 4 miles from the busy market town of Ripon. Much of the present building dates from 1310 but in the undercroft is evidence of an even earlier house. The moated manor house was built by John de Markenfield, who had risen to be Chancellor to King Edward II between 1309 and 1312 and was apparently something of a local bully. He upgraded his medieval home with a chapel and Great Hall at first floor level.
The drama of the Rising of the North
The house remained a stronghold of Catholicism through the reformation of the 16th century until 1569 when its lord, Thomas de Markenfield and his cousin, Sir Richard Norton, were local leaders of The Rising of the North. The major rebellion sought to replace Elizabeth I on the throne with the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots. In the house are two pictures of tragic Sir Richard dated from before and after the rebellion. The effects of imprisonment and disgrace are deeply marked upon his face. De Markenfield’s property was confiscated and he fled into exile where he was to die a sad death of starvation. The house, in turn, sank into obscurity and was used as a farmhouse, although it was rescued from total ruin when, in 1761, it was bought by a member of the Norton family whose descendants still live here.
The barns that flank the entrance to the house were in continuous use as part of the farmyard for centuries. The grant from the Historic Houses Foundation for restoration will help preserve a unique complex of buildings which, despite its secluded situation has played a role on our national stage.