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Knaresborough Castle

Knaresborough Castle The History & facts below are those that I have researched on the internet and in libraries. Hopefully correct, however, history sometimes differs in the views of different historians. Should you find any errors, anything I might have missed, or indeed anything I can include or research please email

Knaresborough Castle: A Historic Landmark in Harrogate, UK

Explore the rich history of Knaresborough Castle, from its Norman origins in 1100 to its present-day role as a public attraction. Learn about its royal connections and the unique stories that make it a must-visit site in Harrogate.

Knaresborough Castle, located in the heart of Harrogate, has a fascinating history that dates back to its construction by a Norman baron around 1100. This historic site, perched on a cliff above the River Nidd, has witnessed significant events over the centuries.

The castle was first built by a Norman baron in c. 1100 on a cliff above the River Nidd. In the 1170s Hugh de Moreville and his followers took refuge there after assassinating Thomas Becket.

Key Historical Events: In the 12th century, the castle served as a refuge for Hugh de Moreville and his followers after the assassination of Thomas Becket. King John recognized its strategic importance in 1205 and invested £1,290 in improvements, and later, Edward I and Edward II contributed to its reconstruction.

Royal Residences: Knaresborough Castle became a royal residence in 1331 when Philippa of Hainault took possession. It was often a summer retreat for the royal family, and John of Gaunt added it to the Duchy of Lancaster in 1372. The castle’s intriguing history includes ownership by Katherine Swynford, Gaunt’s third wife.

Civil War and Preservation: During the Civil War in 1644, Parliamentarian troops captured the castle, leading to its partial destruction in 1648 as part of an order to dismantle Royalist castles. The enduring remnants of the castle are now open to the public.

Current Use and Events: Today, Knaresborough Castle welcomes visitors, offering a glimpse into its storied past. The grounds serve as a public leisure space with a bowling green and putting green, and it hosts various events, including the annual Festival of Visual Arts and Entertainment. The castle is owned by the monarch as part of the Duchy of Lancaster holdings but is administered by Harrogate Borough Council.

Interesting Tidbits: Knaresborough Castle has been home to ravens since 2000, including a characterful African pied crow named Mourdour. In 2018, a video of Mourdour greeting visitors in a Yorkshire accent went viral, making the castle even more intriguing.

Architecture and Courthouse: The castle consisted of two walled baileys, with the outer bailey facing the town and the inner bailey on the cliffside. The main gate, formed by two solid towers, still stands. The keep, with its vaulted basement and multiple stories, served as the lord’s residence. Visitors can explore the Courthouse’s upper storey, featuring a museum with Tudor Court furniture and exhibits about the castle and the town.

Conclusion: Knaresborough Castle, though much ruined, remains a testament to centuries of history and is a site of historical, cultural, and architectural significance. Visit this iconic landmark in Harrogate, UK, and discover the secrets it holds.

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