Ravensworth Castle is a significant 14th century monument that now lies in ruins. Turner passed through Ravensworth on Wednesday 31 July, having spent the previous couple of nights in Richmond as part of his extensive tour of Yorkshire to collect material for the history of York series. He was travelling alone and on horseback, headed for Greta Bridge and Teesdale, but conditions were far from ideal for sketching. Before he left Richmond he wrote to a friend that the weather was miserably wet.
The summer of 1816 was one of the wettest on record, and possibly under the shelter of an umbrella, Turner did manage to make three quite detailed sketches of Ravensworth Castle, with Kirby Hill Church beyond, in his pocketbook, including Ravensworth Castle, with Kirby Hill Church ('Yorkshire 2' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLV 108a) and Ravensworth Castle, near Rokeby, with Cattle ('Yorkshire 2' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLV 109a).
Sadly the history of York project was curtailed after Turner had made little more than 20 of the proposed 120 watercolours and no finished version of Ravensworth seems ever to have been completed. One attractive detail noted in one of the sketches of Ravensworth Castle is that of 'Children at Play' in the foreground (Ravensworth Castle, with Kirby Hill Church, and Children at Play, 'Yorkshire 2' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLV 107a). Turner was always alert to the human dimensions of the landscape and no doubt he would have developed some entertaining detail around this theme if he had made a finished watercolour.
Ravensworth Castle is on private land but the ruin can be viewed from the public road. Kirby Hill Church is accessible and is a delightful and little-known spot that is a prominent landmark in Turner's sketches. A footpath links Ravensworth and Kirby Hill.
Discover The Landscape
The Turner Trails bench can be found on the village green in Ravensworth.
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Ravensworth Castle, Ravensworth, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL11 7ET
Map reference: NZ143077View on map
Directions to Ravensworth Castle:
5 miles NE of the A1 at Scotch Corner on the A66; turn left at the Ravensworth and Kirby Hill signpost follow for a mile, along the main road through Ravensworth. The Castle can be viewed from the road