[DE BRUS FAMILY IN NORTH EAST ENGLAND - Before 1350
All Saints Church
This church is located at the entrance to Skelton Castle and is.renowned for being the burial place of many of the Fauconbergs who were descendants of the de Brus family.There is a memorial slab in the church and it was probably made for a member of the Fauconberg family who were the lords of Skelton Castle. There is also a square 13th century font with unusual geometric and floral designs, as well as a three level pulpit.The view from the churchyard over Skelton Castle to Tees Bay is worth a look.
Grid reference NZ 653 191.
View of Skelton and Tees Bay from viewpoint above Skelton.Grid Reference NZ 667 187
(Photograph courtesy of Peter Appleton)
Local history "says" that by about the death of Robert de Brus I (1142) Skelton Castle was built of stone and had two look-out towers, dungeons and a moat with a drawbridge and portcullis. This "border" castle occupies a defensible site which enabled the surrounding area to be effectively controlled. Situated, as it is, on a river crossing, it also had an excellent view across the mouth of the Tees and the lord of the manor would be able to levy appropriate dues on any traffic, including that between the coast and the moorland. These lords were also able to enjoy the hunting in the hills behind - something no Norman lord could do without. What we see now is a new building dating from the 18th century with only a few remnants of the original incorporated into what is now a private home.
Historians appear to be in agreement that in approximately 1106, the de Brus family gained possession of their lands in Cleveland. Certainly by 1120, Robert de Brus I, having come over from Normandy in about 1100 with Henry I, would have been able to stand in Skelton and be lord of all he could see. This consolidated land holding was to remain as the family power base for the next 200 years. Anglo-Norman lords, like Robert I asserted their control over these debatable lands by building strong, stone castles. Though Castleton, near Danby was the first "caput" or base of the de Brus family, better placed Skelton soon became their main headquarters.
Points of interest.
For more information see Skelton Castle in Wikipedia.
Robert de Brus was married to Agnes Pagnall, and probably through this judicious marriage, arranged by Henry I, gained many of his manors in Langbaugh and the North Riding - including Skelton. They had two sons, Adam and Robert. Though we do not have a definite date for the castle's building and Robert de Brus I was often busy in Scotland and possibly also in France; we can imagine that by 1121 as an influential baron named first in the witness list of royal charters, that the de Brus caput in Skelton would have been a substantial building.
In 1119 Robert de Brus I sought to put further roots down in Yorkshire by establishing the Augustinian Priory in Guisborough, granting the Canons Regular the manors of Guisborough, Kirkleatham and part of Coatham and areas corresponding to the present day Guisborough and Commondale moors.