A North Yorkshire country estate which has been held by the same family for more than seven centuries is to go on the market. Hannah Chapman looks at the long history of Ripley Castle.

There are not many families who could claim to have been in the same home for more than 700 years, but the announcement that Sir Thomas and Lady Ingilby are to sell the Ripley Castle Estate, just north of Harrogate, will put an end to that remarkable era.

The Grade I-listed castle and its surrounding estate is noted for its large grounds, lakes, deer park, walled gardens, hothouses and kitchen garden. It is also a wedding venue, and every year hosts Ripley Show, this year on August 11.

The successful attraction it has become is a far cry from its turbulent history of political, military, religious and social upheaval.

There are tales of romance, drama, villainy and heroism and the colourful characters that have emerged include some of the most seditious figures in the country's history – potential terrorists in today's terms.

Given that they were hunted down and, at one point, fined the equivalent of £3m in today's money for betraying the Crown, it is a wonder the Ingilby clan and its estate survived intact at all.

Sir Thomas's famous forebears include two of the most dangerous Papists in the North, who hid out in the castle walls, Gunpowder Plot conspirators and a swashbuckling daughter of the family who held Oliver Cromwell hostage at pistol point in the castle library.

"When you see what the family has been through, it is unbelievable that we survived," Sir Thomas once said.

The first Sir Thomas Ingilby, who lived from 1290 to 1352, married the heiress Edeline Thwenge in 1308/9 and acquired the Ripley Castle estate as her dowry.

His oldest son, also called Thomas (1310-1369), saved King Edward III from being gored by a wild boar whilst on a hunting expedition and was knighted in return, with the boar's head symbol as his crest.

There was one dramatic family rift which saw a father fighting against his rebel sons in the middle of Ripon's market square. Sir William Ingilby was High Sheriff of York in the mid-16th Century and loyal to the Crown. His sons, Francis and David, were militant Catholics, splitting the family straight down the middle.

Francis, who had been ordained as a priest in Reims and returned home with the intention of stirring rebellion, ended up being hanged, drawn and quartered in York in 1586.

His brother David, known as "The Fox" was a kind of Catholic Scarlet Pimpernel figure. The current Sir Thomas once found a list of dos and don'ts for a spy being sent to the royal court in Scotland in a book about the Gunpowder Plot. "The last thing on the list said, 'beware of David Ingilby'."

James I may have stayed at Ripley in 1603, but two years later the Ingilbys were plotting to kill him. Nine of the 11 known conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot were close relations or associates of the family.

But again, not all the family opposed the Crown. Sir William Ingilby, a supporter of Charles I, hid in Ripley Castle's priest hole when Oliver Cromwell came looking for him. It was his sister, Trooper Jane Ingilby – said to have fought with the Royalists at the Battle of Marston Moor, disguised as a man in a full suit of armour – who held Cromwell at pistol point overnight in the castle library to prevent him conducting a search.

Not all the Ingilby family sagas are historically significant, but they are fascinating nonetheless.

One Ingilby abandoned his wife and two-year-old son to go off and become a monk. Once a man had joined the seminary and given up his possessions he was said to be dead by law. His distraught wife had to hang on in limbo for 12 years in case he changed his mind and returned.

Sir William Amcotts Ingilby, born 1783, was a drinker, gambler and general reprobate, as well as an MP. Famously eccentric, he was renowned for walking about Ripley and Ripon in his dressing gown "without smalls or loincloth on".

"Most of the Ingilbys were fundamentally good people, even if they found themselves outside the law or monarch at that time. One characteristic we have all inherited is we have proved to be extraordinary survivors," Sir Thomas has said.

In announcing the forthcoming sale of the estate, which includes The Boar's Head pub and several houses in Ripley village, Sir Thomas and Lady Ingilby described it as "a much loved family home", adding the decision is "with the support of their family".

Their statement continues: "The family will continue to live nearby and focus on their other interests.

"Most of the estate's enterprises will continue to trade as normal and our valued clients employees and tenants will be advised at the earliest opportunity of any changes to this plan."

The sale is being handled by Mark Granger of Carter Jonas in Harrogate, who says: "It is unlikely that marketing of The Ripley Castle Estate will start before October. Until just before then there won't be any information available on lotting or pricing."

Whoever decides to take on the estate, as well as bricks and mortar, they will buying a huge slice of northern history.