In the Beginning. A Manor House has probably existed at Snape since the mid-thirteenth century at the time of Ralph FitzRanulph, Lord of Middleham. On the death of his widow the manor passed through their daughter Mary to her husband Robert Neville, son of Robert Neville of Raby, and thus began the long association of Snape with the Neville family.
Snape means ‘boggy pasture’. The foundations of Snape Hall rested on oak piles sunk in the ground in triple rows.
The original building was probably demolished in the 1420s and replaced by a castellated residence, the present castle, when Ralph, fourth Lord Neville of Raby and Earl of Westmorland, settled Snape and Well on his fifth son, George Neville, Lord Latimer of Snape and Danby.
The Latimers and Katherine Parr Snape Castle was, for a brief period in the care of Richard III, King of England, as the heir Richard, second Lord Latimer of Snape and grandson of George, was still a minor.
John Neville, third Lord Latimer of Snape, son of Richard, was the second husband of Katharine Parr of Kendal, for ten years, prior to his death in 1542. Lord Latimer is reported to have used Snape Castle as his ‘chief house’ so it is fair to conclude that Katharine Parr would have spent a good part of her married life in residence at Snape. She was certainly here during the Catholic Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536 because in a letter her husband expressed concern for her safety in Snape Castle.
After the death of her husband, Lord Latimer, Katharine became the sixth wife of Henry VIII. On Henry’s death in 1547 Katharine married Lord Thomas Seymour but she died after childbirth in September 1548. W.R.Mitchell, the author of “ Haunted Yorkshire” (Dalesman publications) thought that the ghost of a young girl in a blue Tudor-style dress with long fair hair, said to have been seen at various times in the castle, might have been that of Katharine Parr.
The Castle moves to the Cecil Family The castle remained in the possession of the Lords Latimer until Dorothy Neville, one of the five daughters of John, fourth Lord Latimer of Snape, and heiress to Snape and Well, married Sir Thomas Cecil in 1564. The result of this was that in 1577, on the death of the fourth Lord, Snape and Well was inherited by Dorothy Neville and so joined the estates of the rich and powerful Cecil family.