The parish of Danby lies within the North York National Park and King Henry I gave the manor of Danby to Robert de Brus I. He is thought to have erected his initial fortress at Castleton, further up the valley.. This remained as the baronial residence until the castle was built elsewhere in Danby. The ruins of the medieval castle, which was the first recorded example of a domestic dwelling and castle combined, overlooking the River Esk valley can be seen in the picture to the right and this is a former home of Catherine Parr (b 1512) wife of Henry VIII. He was her third husband, the first being Edward Brough (d 1529) and the second being John Neville of Danby - Lord Latimer, who died in 1542. Henry VIII died in 1547.
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When Peter III died childless the de Brus lands went to his sisters. That part which was Seaton went to Lucia de Thweng of Kilton Castle and by her to granddaughter Lucy, the scandalous young heiress of Danby. Her husband used her money to build Danby Castle. The castle now partly a ruin, is home to the Danby Court Leet and is one of the earliest examples of a fortified, but principally a domestic castle. The shields, carved in stone, possibly came from the earlier wooden castle at Castleton. They are early 14th century and have the coat of arms of the de Brus and Latimer families.
On the Danby/Little Fryup Dale road is a medieval (14th century) packhorse bridge with an adjacent ford. Looking through this "Duck Bridge" you can see Danby Castle in the background. In later centuries, like much of the area, Fryup Dale was marred by industrial workings, which can still be seen in the landscape at the present day.
Whilst in Danby it is well worth a visit to the Moors National Park Centre, which is the flagship of the North York Moors. For more information visit www.northyorkmoors.org.uk
Moors National Park Centre
Castleton is believed to be the first place where the de Brus family settled and enjoyed extensive hunting rights when they came to the north of England. It is located on the River Esk and is believed to have taken its name from the ancient de Brus castle that once stood there. The only thing now visible is the hill on which the castle is believed to have stood.
[DE BRUS FAMILY IN NORTH EAST ENGLAND - Before 1350
(Photograph courtesy of Chris J Parkin)