Featured image of Hazlewood Castle

The History of Hazlewood Castle

LocationLeeds, North Yorkshire, England (Google Map Location)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned byAshdale Hotels
Official WebsiteHazlewood Castle
Rooms AvailableYes. Booking for weddings and meetings is also available

Hazlewood Castle is a magnificent structure in North Yorkshire, England, constructed at the end of the 13th century. Located near Leeds and York, the Castle has a fascinating history and is one of England’s oldest surviving fortified houses.

The Castle housed several generations of multiple families and witnessed several events that were of great significance in the history of England. These include the times of Norman Conquest and the persecution of Roman Catholic followers in England, along with multiple great battles fought on English soil, such as the Second Barons’ War and the Battle of Towtown.


The history of Hazlewood Castle dates back to the 11th century, beginning with the Norman Conquest of England. In the late 1060s, William I the Conqueror introduced major political and social changes in the region, employing Normans in place of Anglo Saxon landowners. Hazlewood Castle is also mentioned in the Domesday Book- one of the first land surveys in England undertaken by William I. The Castle property was first in possession of Moshe le Vavasour, who was from a Norman family of high stature during the reign of William I. The heirs of the Vavasour family continued to occupy high positions in the state. Robert Vavasour, whose statue was erected at the main entrance of Hazlewood Castle’s cathedral. His daughter was Maud le Vavasour, who was Baroness Butler. She was married to Fulk FitzWarin, who had a dispute with King John of England, and was forced to seek refuge in the woods. FitzWarin led an uprising against the monarch with the help of several followers and inspired the legendary stories of Robin Hood.

In the Second Barons’ War of 1264, Hazlewood Castle was attacked by a rival family. During the War, the Castle sustained a lot of damage and the chapel was completely burnt down. It was only in 1283 that the chapel was rebuilt. The King granted a license to fortify the structure’s defenses in 1290 and crenulated the house, giving it the status of a baron’s Castle. In 1461, the Battle of Towtown- one of the most violent battles fought in England- was fought just a few kilometres from Hazlewood Castle, claiming the lives of around thirty thousand soldiers in a single day. The Vavasours, who were loyal supporters of the reigning King, survived the battle by hiding in the chapel while the enemy, King Edward VI, was celebrating his victory in Hazlewood Castle.

Queen Mary Stuart spent the night at Hazlewood Castle in 1569, travelling from Bolton Castle to Tutbury Castle. Beginning in the 17th century, the Vavasours were punished for their religious beliefs during the large-scale persecution of Catholic nonconformists in the region. Walter Vavasour, the 2nd baronet, also supported the Royalists during the English Civil War. Once the Parliamentarians won, Walter Vavasour was forced to flee to France but returned to Hazlewood Castle once the monarchy was restored in 1660. By the end of the 17th century, the Vavasour family was doing well financially and invested in the restoration and modernization of their property.

William Vavasour, a distant relative of the Vavasours, was forced to sell Hazelwood Castle in 1908 to Edward Simpson, a wealthy lawyer from Yorkshire. During the Second World War, a portion of the Castle was converted into a maternity hospital. Hazlewood Castle was sold to the Fawcett family in 1953 and then to Mr. Donald Hart in 1957. The Order of Carmelites bought the Castle in 1972 and stayed there till 1997 when it was finally converted into a hotel, restaurant, and banquet centre.


Hazlewood Castle
Hazlewood Castle”, by DAVID M GOODWIN, is licensed under  CC-BY-SA-2.0

Hazlewood Castle underwent multiple structural changes but has retained its antique beauty over time. The southwest tower in the property was built in the time of William I and is the oldest standing structure on the premises of the Castle. It served the purpose of light beacons, which were used to communicate across large distances. The west wing, which comprises the lower part of the tower’s keep, is the oldest part of Hazlewood Castle and is home to the Victoria Room. The first chapel at Hazlewood was endowed in 1183, and the Castle has served as a refuge for Catholics hiding from their enemies during Henry VIII’s opposition to the Roman Catholic Church. The Vavasours added priest holes in the tower and an underground passage leading to a nearby crossroads farm to help Catholic priests flee from their attackers.

The chapel was destroyed in the aftermath of the Second Barons’ War, after which it was reconstructed and endowed with chaplaincy. A Tudor tower was built in 1509, which was then offered to King Henry VIII during his visit to York as a token of appeasement. A stable house was constructed on the premises in 1750, which was later converted into a guest house.

Mr. Donald Hart, who came into possession of Hazlewood Castle in 1957, made some significant changes to the structure. The Northeast side of the Castle was demolished and a new entrance to the north elevation from the central courtyard was constructed. This leads to a newly-constructed Flemish hall that houses the wood panelling around the walls made in the late 17th century. As it stands today, Hazlewood Castle is a unique monument connecting several generations of architectural styles.

Frequently Asked Questions

When was Hazlewood Castle constructed?

The oldest tower on the premises was constructed during the 12th century during the reign of William I the Conqueror, and the Castle’s first chapel was endowed in 1183. Subsequent structural changes were made to Hazlewood Castle in the 16th century, and it was finally converted into a mansion in the mid-18th century.

Is Hazlewood Castle available for conducting events?

Various events such as weddings and meetings can be conducted on the premises of Hazlewood Castle. One can also book rooms for a short stay at the Castle.

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!
You can email us your pictures of the castle at castrumtocastle@gmail.com. Please use the name of the castle in the subject line.
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