The land around Mitford was originally owned prior to the Norman Conquest by Sir John of Mitford whose name was derived from the site’s location between two fords over the rivers Font and Wansbeck.
After 1066 Sir John’s daughter, Sybilla, was married to Richard Bertram, son of the Seigneur of Dignain in Normandy. King William endowed Bertram with considerable land holdings and as a result a number of churches, including Brinkburn Priory and Newminster Abbey, were built by the family together with Mitford Church, which dates from 1135.
Mitford Castle itself was known to have existed by 1138 and this was constructed on the site of an Anglo Saxon fort. The Castle has the only 5 sided keep in England but was subsequently laid waste by King John’s Flemish troops in 1215 and by 1327 was in ruins.
The Bertram and Mitford families merged together but lived in times of continuing troubles pray not only to the marauding Scots but also the whims of the Kings of England the family’s landed estates were subject to attack and confiscation.
It was not until after the restoration of Charles II that the majority of the lands, which previously had belonged to the family, were returned to Robert Mitford, an enthusiastic royalist. This completed the task of his ancestors over the preceding three centuries in consolidating the family’s properties.
A more settled period in the family history ensued and Bertram Mitford succeeded to the Hunmanby and Osbaldeston estates in Yorkshire in 1835. Subsequently taking the name of Osbaldeston in addition to and before the Mitford name, Bertram was responsible for pulling down the Manor House, leaving the Pele Tower intact and constructing the present Hall in 1828.
The family line at Mitford continued up until 1990’s although other members of the family established themselves elsewhere and these include the Exbury branch, headed by Lord Redesdale, from where the famous Mitford sisters hailed.
The Shepherd family purchased the Estate from the Mitford family in 1993 and a large scale programme of restoration and modernisation has been in progress throughout the Estate ever since.
In 2004 and 2005 the Shepherd family in partnership with English Heritage have begun the restoration and preservation of the Mitford Castle ruins.