Hazlewood Castle History


Click here to view the Domesday translation

Hazlewood Castle has a long and varied history, during it's life the Castle has homed many walks of life and been host to many exciting events.

During a visit to the Castle a guided history tour is a must to immerse yourself in it's rich heritage.

Please see below for the Hazlewood timeline

Pre 1086


The lands which Hazlewood sits upon would have been subject to the great harrying of the north during the winter of 1069/70.
Gamel son of Osmund. Pre-conquest occupier a Bradford Manor with 6 unnamed berewicks (areas of land belonging to the manor but sited elsewhere), also the Owram Manor, two more in Hazlewood and Thornhill Manor, in King Edwards reign. He was Kings Thegn in Kilnsley-in-Graven.
Gamel was displaced. Mauger le Vavasour takes possession circa. 1069/70.

The southwest pele tower is the oldest building within the current castle make up. A pele tower was a tower built for the use of lighting beacons to convey a message or warn of danger. This was built mid 13th century. Although it may very well have been earlier. William I was known for requiring his nobles to build watch towers. And particularly across the north from Lincoln across to Lancashire.

The lands have been home to dwellings of some kind since roman times, this being the last rise before the river Wharfe some 4/5 miles away to the north and would have afforded advantageous views in all directions. On a clear day views of more than 25 miles can be taken.


The Domesday Book records Mauger as having lands from William de Percy.

Domesday records lands amounting to approx. 15sqkm which is about 3000 acres.


Vavasour arrived from Normandy sometime after the conquest from a place named Le Vavasour in Normandy. Mauger is listed on the Battle Abbey Role, an 11th century document purporting to be a list of  those loyal to William between 1066-1070. 1070 was the time at which most serious uprising and rebellions were finally put down.
Hazlewood pre- 10866


The king owned all lands and leased to others for services and for providing men for the King’s Army. This was the medieval feudal system introduced by William the Conqueror. This political system remained in force up to around the early 16th century eventually abandoned by Henry VII.


1ST Chapel endowed at Hazlewood

Circa. 1186

William le Vavasour an eminent judge under Henry II.
Advised Matlida countess of Warwick about granting licence for the church at Tadcaster and the chapel at Hazlewood. Earliest reference to a place of worship here.


Williams’s son Robert le Vavasour was High sheriff of Yorkshire.


Sir Robert Vavasour granted a charter to allow stone from his quarry at Thievesdale to be used for build York Minster. Roberts Statue is placed over the left hand side of the Great West Door at York Minster.


The stone was also used to build places such as Eton college and the kings college chapel in Cambridge

D. before 1226

Maud le Vavasour, Baroness Butler and daughter of Sir Robert was an Anglo-Norman heiress and the wife of Fulk FitzWarin III who subsequent to a violent quarrel with King John of England, was deprived of his lands and property by the vengeful king. FitzWarin then sought refuge in the woods and became an outlaw, with Maud having accompanied him. The legendary figures of Robin Hood and Maid Marian are said to be based on Fulk and Maud. Maud is also the  Great 11th Grand Mother to Elizabeth I Queen of England through her first husband Theobald Walter the Baron Butler. Maud is also ancestor to many other royals though her marriage to Fitzwarin.


The second baron wars brought destruction to Hazlewood during Henry III’s reign Malger le Vavasour of Denton attacked John Vavasour that held Hazlewood. The chapel was burnt and the house sacked. Malger was Johns son or grandson Depending on which Malger attacked the castle father or son.


The house was rebuilt by sir William Vavasour Mauger was Williams brother or nephew! Depending on which Malger attacked the castle father or son


The chapel rebuilt and a licence granted by the king to endow a chaplaincy. The endowment meant the priest would have a house and 40 acres. During medieval times being of the cloth meant great wealth could be acquired. And often churches, chapels and even cathedrals were built as penance by the men of war. Most notably King William I.


The king granted a licence to fortify and crenulated the house. Turning the hall of a thane into the castle of a baron. Unusual for the time as many houses were being slighted or demolished following the second baron war coming to an end as many houses had been fortified illegally.


Sir William died and is buried in the chapel he built.


On his death he left £66.13.4d. to the poor. Which would have been a hefty sum.


His son Sir Walter died soon after in the Scottish borders fighting Robert the Bruce. In one of the many revolts against the english.


The black death, the peasant revolt, the French wars and even the war of the roses past them by. The Vavasours were devout catholic but were always loyal to the sitting King regardless of denomination and for this they were largely left un-molested though the ages. Up until the gun powder plot at least!!


29th March saw the one of the biggest and bloodiest battle ever to take place on English soil. The battle of Towton 2 miles southeast, the Yorkist forces crushed the Lancastrian forces. The battle was fort in a blinding snow storm, 29,000 killed; the family were in mass and locked themselves in the chapel. The result saw the accession of Edward IV to the throne, and Henry the VI flee to Scotland. Legend says that Edward took food and wine, and refreshed his horses before triumphantly marching into York.
Sir Henry Vavasour married to Joan Gascgoine. Fought on the Yorkist side, later became sheriff of Yorkshire in 1471, and a joint commissioner for Yorkshire in 1484. d.1499. Joan’s father Sir William Gascgoine fought on the Lancastrian side, a retainer of the earl of Northumberland. The earl was killed at Towton.




Tudor tower built in 1509. It was offered to King Henry VIII during his visit to York in 1536 as a gesture by the family to appease the Anglican king.

The same offer was made to James the I in 1603 however this was declined and instead sent a portrait of himself, which was promptly destroyed as it had offended the then current residents of Hazlewood!


Sir William Vavasour was High Sheriff of Yorkshire for 1548 and 1563 and MP for Yorkshire in 1553. His son John Vavasour was host to Mary, Queen of Scots on the night of 27 January 1569, when she passed through Wetherby en-route between Bolton Castle and Tutbury Castle.


William was able stop the suppression of the chapel by the king’s commissioners in 1546.


John vavasour was brought before the commissioners for refusing to attend Anglican services. However the Vavasour’s found an unexpected ally in the the queen. Lady Anne vavasour was so highly prized that the queen exempted the vavasour clan from penal laws.




The execution of Margaret Clitheroe in 1586 as a catholic martyr. Saw her canonised in 1970. She is one of the ‘forty martyrs, following her death her supporters took her body and carried out of the city of York and legend has it that she was buried under the cross in the chapel yard.
Peter Snow (executed at York, 15 June 1598) was an English Roman Catholic priest. He is a Catholic martyr, along with Ralph Grimston who died with him, beatified in 1987. Their liturgical celebration is on 15 June.
The two sculls encased within the chapel are those of these two catholic martyrs.




Sir Thomas Vavasour was appointed Knight Marshal of the Household, a role confirmed to him for life in 1612 but, according to John Chamberlain, he sold the right for £3,000, in 1618, two years before his death.
5th November 1605 Sir Thomas Knyvett arrests Guy Fawkes in a cellar under the houses of parliament. Thomas Knyvett was Anne Vavasours Uncle and Sir Henry Vavasour’s Brother-in –Law. Catholic persecutions resumed with vigour.




Despite the persecutions with some of the vavasours spending some time in prisons. The family proved loyal to the crown. When the civil war came sir Walter vavasour raised a regiment. The king’s cause did not prevail and Walter fled the country and his son John was killed in battle at Edgehill.


After the restoration, Sir Walter regained his estate and the worst was over for Hazlewood.


Stable block built


Under the 6th Baronet the house was substantially modernised. On the death of the unmarried 7th Baronet in 1826 the baronetcy was extinguished and the estate passed to Edward Stourton, a relative. In 1828 he took the name Vavasour and was made the 1st Baronet Vavasour of the second creation.. Stourton died a few years later on pilgrimage to the Rome. The estate passing to his son.

Angela Fawcett.

Pearl Vavasour and Frank Reid. parents

Grand Father Henry Dunstan Vavasour

Great Grand Father Sir William Vavasour 4th child of Edward Vavasour 1st Baronet 2nd creation

Great Great Grand Father Edward Vavasour 1st Baronet 2nd creation

Edward (Stourton) Vavasour was great Nephew to Sir William Vavasour


In 1908 the estate was put up for sale and bought by a prominent solicitor Edward Simpson. The front terrace was added and the great hall opened up to views through a new entrance. They were to live at the castle for 40 years


Part of the castle was used as a maternity hospital. A common name of Hazel for girls locally. Approx 600-800 babies born each year.


Fawcett family bought castle they were local catholic farmers, Richard Fawcett married a granddaughter of Sir William vavasour.

c. 1957

Castle bought by Mr Donald Hart.
Mr Hart clearly had a keen interest in old buildings and commenced a considerable amount of restoration and alteration work, largely undertaken by Mr Stanley Apps, a craftsman from Boroughbridge. The North East side of the Castle was demolished leaving the Chapel free-standing, and a new entrance was constructed to the North elevation from the main courtyard. This leads into the Flemish Hall which was constructed as a replacement for a long dark corridor, primarily to accommodate the wood panelling around the walls carved between 1673 and 1683 for a Carmelite Church in Ghent. The Flemish Hall also incorporates the “Jezebel Fireplace” transported from Heath Old Hall, Near Wakefield, home of the Keays Family.
The West Wing comprises probably the oldest remaining part of Hazlewood Castle, possibly the lower part of a Keep or pele tower that survived the Barons’ Wars. This wing houses the Victoria Room, the walls of which Mr Hart reduced from seven feet thick to a mere three and a half. A hooded fireplace was constructed by Stanley Apps, and the metallic wallpaper installed. The wallpaper was made originally for the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in 1851, following which it was moved to Eaton Hall, Cheshire, home of the Duke of Westminster. When (part) of Eaton Hall was demolished in the 1960s the wallpaper and the timber ceiling were brought to Hazlewood Castle, together with the outer entrance door from the main courtyard to the Flemish Hall.


In the 1960s Mr Hart consented to a request from Gordon Wheeler, Bishop of Leeds, for the Carmelite Friars to obtain Hazlewood as a Retreat and Pilgrimage Centre. The Carmelites accordingly purchased the Castle from Mr Hart in 1967, allowing Mr Hart to remain in residence, and taking up their own accommodation in the former stable block (which had earlier been converted to estate workers’ cottages). Upon the death of Mr Hart in 1972 the Carmelites took their flats in the upstairs’ bedrooms, thereby releasing their former accommodation for visiting groups of adults on retreat, or school parties on field trips.


By 1996 there were only two of the Friars still at Hazlewood Castle, and the decision was taken to put the property up for sale. Mr Brian Walker, a Leeds businessman and property developer, purchased the property, which he began to convert and develop as a residential hotel, restaurant, conference and banqueting centre, a major wedding venue, with several rooms licensed for the purpose of Civil Ceremonies, with the Chapel being available for a Blessing. Hazlewood Castle opened to the public for business on 1st October 1997.


The Vavasours of Hazlewood are the ancesters of many  Kings and Queens of England, and notable people throughout history.
Sir Robert Vavasour Lord of Haslewood was-

Richard Plantagenet Duke of York 6th GGF
Edward IV, 7th GGF,
Richard III, 7th GGF
Elizabeth of York 8th GGF (married Henry Tudor)
Henry VIII, 9th GGF
Elizabeth I, I2th GGF
Mary Queen of Scots 13th GGF
James I King of England 14th GGF
George I King of England, 16th GGF
George II King of England, 17th GGF
PM Winston Churchill 21st GGF
PM David Cameron 23rd GGF
Diana Princess of Wales 21st GGF
These connections were through his daughter Maud and her two marriages



Book online...

click for calendar

click for calendar

amend/cancel a booking?

Other Hotels


Hazlewood Castle
Paradise Lane,
Nr Leeds & York,
North Yorkshire,
England, LS24 9NJ
Tel: 01937 535353
Fax: 01937 535304

click here to view map

Winners 2014