Danby Castle, now partly a ruin, is the home of the Danby Court Leet, and one of the earliest examples of a fortified but principally domestic castle. The many ensuite guardrobes are ample evidence of the ‘modern’ features of this castle which sits in a stategic position overlooking the River Esk valley.
The architectural style of the North Front, suggests that the Castle was built in the early 15th century. The blocks on which the shields are carved do not fit in very well with the surrounding masonry. There was originally a castle in Castleton and when this was destroyed by fire it is believed that some of the stone was used to build Danby Castle. If this is correct then this early 14th century heraldry may have been brought to Danby with the building stone.
At the end of the 14th century, the Estate and Castle passed to the famous Neville family. They remodelled the South Range, where their Arms can be seen on the south wall of the Courtroom. In the 16th century John Neville, Lord Latimer of Danby married Catherine Parr, (Henry VIII’s last wife,) and their marital home was Danby Castle.
Later in the same century the Estate passed to the Danvers family and Sir Henry Danvers was created Earl of Danby. In the 17th century Danby was bought by John Dawnay, later created Viscount Downe. The Estate has remained with the Dawnay family ever since.
The South Range of the Castle was converted into a manorial Court-house with the former private chamber (solar) being divided into a Court Room, where the Court Leet still meets, and a Jury Room. As regards the rest of the old mansion, the South-East tower became and still remains, a farm house. Farm buildings were added and some original sections have fallen into ruins. Repairs were made in the 19th century and the South Range was restored in 1994
The Count Leet Rooms and can be hired for private dinners, functions and weddings . Visitors can view the castle by arrangement with the Tenant. See www.danbycastle.com