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Mulgrave Castle


Mulgrave Castle has landscaped woods and grounds. There are also pleasure grounds. The Park was laid out by the first Earl of Mulgrave in the late 18th and early 19th century incorporating proposals made by Humphry Repton in 1792-3.


The site encompasses the steep valleys of Sandsend Beck and East Row Beck.

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

Location, Area, Boundaries, Landform and Setting

Mulgrave Castle lies c 6 km west of Whitby, immediately south of the village of Lythe and immediately west of the coastal village of Sandsend. The c 377 ha site is in a rural and agricultural setting and encompasses the steep valleys of Sandsend Beck and East Row Beck which flow parallel to one another from west to east across the site and are divided by a narrow ridge. The boundaries are formed by fences separating woodland from fields on the south and south-west sides of the site. On the north side, Low Lane and Lythe Bank form part of the boundary with fences dividing fields from woodland and park south of Lythe village. The eastern boundary fence divides the site from private land and gardens in Sandsend.

Entrances and Approaches

The principal entrance to the site is on the south side of Lythe where there is a lodge set back from the main road through the village. A drive runs south from it to the house. On the north-east side of the site there is a lodge on Lythe Bank, the road between Lythe and Sandsend, from which a drive leads south-west to the house. Another entrance is from the minor road to Dunsley on the south side of the site, where a drive leads north through a narrow wooded valley before climbing and bearing to the west towards the ruins of the old Mulgrave Castle. Some 200 m east of the ruins it turns northwards once more and continues through a tunnel which cuts through the ridge and emerges c 1.1 km south-west of the house. The drive then continues north-east to join the drive from Lythe Bank. This approach was constructed probably in the late 1790s or early years of the C19 by the first Earl. Humphry Repton had proposed a drive from the village of Dunsley but his route was not followed, a route further to the west being used.

Repton's general principle of using an approach which took advantage of the natural rocky scenery of the woods, the romantic prospect of the ruins, and emerging from a tunnel to views of the house set in parkland was followed however. In his personal memorandum he wrote that the approaches should `display the beauties of the place and excite admiration, without terror, by leading the road along an easy ascent and protecting it from every appearance of danger' (quoted in Goodchild nd). The tunnel would `break out on the opposite side with all the magic of effect which always attends the emersion from darkness to light, by a subterranean passage in romantic scenery' (ibid).

Principal Building

Mulgrave Castle (listed grade II*) stands on high ground on the north side of the site commanding views to the south over steep wooded valleys and to the east to the sea. The earliest part was built before 1735 for the Duchess of Buckingham. John Soane (1753-1837) extended the building and added side wings in 1786-7. Picturesque additions, including towers and turrets, were made by William Atkinson in 1805 and in 1814-16. A curving screen wall runs from each of the northern corners of the house, concealing the stables and other ancillary buildings which lie immediately north of the main building. The stables (1787, listed grade II*) are by Soane with later castellations probably added by Atkinson in the early C19.

Old Mulgrave Castle (C12 and C13 with C16 alterations, listed grade I) lies c 1.2 km to the south-west on the ridge between the two valleys. The ruinous remains of a keep, bailey walls, and a gatehouse survive, the keep with angle towers and C16 transomed windows. Repton proposed rebuilding part of it as a romantic ruin, though this was not done.

Gardens and Pleasure Grounds

Gardens of late C20 date, replacing an earlier, mid C20 formal garden by Lanning Roper, lie on the south side of the house. There are views to the south over sloping parkland to the steep wooded valleys and hills (outside the registered area) beyond. On the east side of the building there is a terrace called the Quarter Deck from which views of the sea and Whitby Abbey (qv) are framed by woodland.

Kitchen Garden

A walled kitchen garden lies c 200 m west of the house. The rectangular enclosure has a range of glasshouses along the north wall.


Areas of open grassland lie to the west and east of the house. They are sheltered by strips of woodland which extend on each of the north sides of the building. This had all been open land under arable cultivation in the late C18 and imparkment was undertaken by the first Earl broadly in line with Repton's proposals. Repton, in his personal memorandum on the site (ibid), felt that the higher land near the house should be parkland to give it connection with the house. He thought that there were too few trees in this area, especially when contrasted with the wooded valleys below. The plantations he proposed were designed to give the landscape cohesion; that to the east is called Church Plantation and it serves to control views of the sea from this side of the house. Parkland on this side slopes to the south-east and there are views of the sea and Whitby Abbey which acts as an eyecatcher in views from this side of the site. A plantation immediately south-east of the house cuts off views in this direction, in contrast to Repton's idea of exploiting vistas towards Dunsley. This was probably planted by the first Earl to afford protection from the prevailing winds.

On the west side of the house parkland extends over falling land on the north side of the site and a ride called The Gallop extends from the edge of the patch of woodland south-east of the house across the park to its westernmost point.

The whole of the south side of the site is wooded and numerous tracks, paths, and rides lead through the woods and along the ridge. There is a concentration of routes, some of them cut out of the rock in line with Repton's suggestions, around the ruins of the old castle. The scenery is changeful and dramatic, with rocky glens and rushing water. Repton compared it favourably with another coastal site, Mount Edgecumbe in Cornwall (qv), and commented on the `romantic scenes in the glens, with fresh water rivulets and cascades' (ibid).

Not all of Repton's proposals were carried out but the idea of combining the Picturesque aesthetic ideals of the Beautiful, Romantic, and Sublime implicit in his proposals, as put forward in his personal memorandum (ibid) and the Red Book, provided a starting point for the improvements. The first Earl may have been influenced by ideas of the Picturesque being promulgated by Uvedale Price who had advised on the layout of the grounds of Coleorton (qv), belonging to Sir George Beaumont, a close friend of the Earl. The decision in 1814 to give the house an asymmetrical castellated outline can be seen as part of his general approach to the landscape.


  • OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1853; 2nd edition published 1895
  • OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1893; 2nd edition published 1913

Archival items

  • Mulgrave Castle Red Book, 1792 (private collection)

Description written: March 2000

Amended: April 2000

Edited: October 2004

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

11th - 15th Century

There was a pre-conquest manor which came into the hands of Niel Fossard before 1086. The de Mauley family, successors of Fossard, retained ownership until the early 15th century when the Mulgrave inheritance reverted to the Bigod family and then passed to the Radcliffes.

16th - 19th Century

Edmund, Lord Sheffield was given possession in 1592 and created Earl of Mulgrave in 1626. The estate then passed to the Phipps family through marriage. Henry Phipps became the first Earl of Mulgrave (of the second creation) and Viscount Normanby in 1812. His brother, Constantine John Phipps, second Baron Mulgrave, had consulted Humphry Repton (1752-1818) on the landscape at Mulgrave Castle in 1792 and following a visit, Repton prepared a Red Book for him. Phipps died a month after Repton's visit, but some of Repton's ideas and proposals were taken up and developed by the first Earl.

20th - 21st Century

Mulgrave Castle is in private ownership.


  • 18th Century
  • Late 18th Century
Associated People
Features & Designations


  • The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens

  • Reference: GD2067
  • Grade: II*


  • Stream
  • Description: Sandsend Beck and East Row Beck flow parallel to one another from west to east across the site
Key Information






18th Century


Part: standing remains



Civil Parish