Middleham Church sits on the left-hand side of the main A6108 as you exit the village towards Leyburn. Dedicated to St. Mary &
St. Alkelda, traditionally the building was erected adjoining St. Alkelda's Well after this pious lady was murdered there in AD 800. Her shrine, in the south-east portion of the church attracted pilgrims until the Reformation. The site is marked by a Saxon carving, thought to be part of her tomb.
The history of the present church of largely 14th century construction is inextricably linked to the residents of the nearby castle: the great Neville family and latterly, Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who ascended the throne as King Richard III. He established a College of Secular Canons here in 1478 and, as a Royal peculiar outside normal ecclesiastical jurisdiction, it miraculously survived the Reformation. A Dean and Canons, amongst them the author, Charles Kingsley, were appointed right up until 1845 when a special Act of Parliament had to be passed to abolish the college.
King Richard and his family have a memorial window in the South Aisle and his pennant is flown from the tower on significant dates. Below the latter is a deeply incised tomb slab to Robert Thornton, 22nd Abbot of Jervaulx. It shows a rebus on his name with a thorn-sprouting crozier balanced upon a barrel or tun.
The church is a regular place of worship owned by the Church of England. Free Entry, but donations welcome.