Although this amazing arch has an almost unknown history, it is a must see in the area. The gateway is thought to have been built in 1360 – in its present amazing form. When you first see this structure, you can imagine it to be an ornate guardhouse or gateway to a lavishly rich estate in the Medieval ages. The front is obviously a structure constructed at different times and built up over time. It has battlements at the top to repel marauding God knows what. The back side of the structure is the most amazing. It hosts a series of reliefs that are obviously coats of arms, farm animals, odd faces and sadly places where the sculpted relief has washed away in 700 years of rain.
It is now owned and protected by English Heritage. They describe this as one of four (the others now gone) gateways to the massive manor of Steeton (originally called Stiveton) owned by the Reygate family in the 14th century. English Heritage describes the structures as “It has two arched passages, the large one in the centre to allow horsemen and carriages through and the smaller one to the left for footmen.” Why the poor footmen had to go through a door, up stairs, across and down stairs to move along is beyond me. Having said that thought there are 2 doors on the left. If you are leaving the estate there is a door to the right and left of the arch. Entering – just one to the left.
There was once a large hall behind the gateway and you can literally see where some of the stone went to. There are old and new houses either side that have been built using the stone. It is believed that the larger manor house further away was by William de Reygate, a royal administrator of the time in the not too distant city of York. Not much is known of the history and obvious decline of the manor for the next 300 years. The Foljambes family inherited the gatehouse and lands in the 17th century and held them until the last century. The gatehouse, the last jewel in this once amazing manor, was taken into care by the nation in 1948.
The real mystery is how many Steeton Halls, or even Steeton Estates there actually were. Records identify a Steeton Hall belonging to the Fairfax family 8 miles north and the one here belonging to the Reygates in this area around the same time. There is some possibility that it was once a single massive estate and house(s) passed from one family to another. Its’ a shame we do not know more. It is ‘open’ 24 hours a day with no fee to pay or gate to get in your way, so please do have a quick look.
Great North Road, South Milford, United Kingdom, L
Good for: Solo
Junction A1 / A63, near Leeds, South Milford LS25 5LF, England
Good for: Solo
South Milford Travel Guide