In April 1066 Halley’s Comet appeared in the skies above Hindrelac, a small settlement predating Richmond, the precise location of which is unknown. The comet was seen as a portent of disaster. Later that year, in October, the last Anglo-Saxon King of England, Harold, was killed and the victor, William Duke of Normandy, came to power.
People in the North rebelled against the new order and in 1069 William ordered villages from York to the River Tees to be destroyed and people to be killed. Animals and crops were burned and most of the people who survived the slaughter starved to death, greatly reducing the population.
William gave Alan Rufus, who had commanded the Breton contingent of the Norman army, land in the North and in the town we now know as Richmond, Alan commissioned the building of his castle. Today, Earl Alan is acknowledged as having been the richest man ever in Britain, with his wealth in today’s currency valued at over £81 billion when he died in 1093.
Richmond grew up around the castle and became a prosperous town. Nine-hundred-and-fifty years on we are able to celebrate what our town has become, whilst remembering what terror and suffering had gone before.
Follow the Timeline to see more key events in Richmond’s history.