With the old English name of Elmeslac, Helmsley predates the Domesday Book. It was first settled in around 3,000 BC and small farming communities lived in the town throughout the Neolithic period, Bronze and Iron Ages and into Roman times. The lands around Helmsley were held by William the Conquerors brother. You can still visit the ruins of the Norman castle, and see ancient oak trees in Duncombe Park dating from this time.
The oldest surviving house in Helmsley is the medieval Canons Garth, the vicarage. The Norman castle, dating back over 900 years, evolved over the centuries, from a mighty medieval fortress to a luxurious Tudor mansion, to a Civil War stronghold and a romantic Victorian ruin. It is open all year round for visitors to enjoy, under the care of English Heritage. The Walled Gardens also enjoy a historic past, tracing their roots back to 1759.