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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 54°00′30″N 1°28′01″W / 54.0084°N 1.467°W / 54.0084; -1.467

Knaresborough is located in North Yorkshire

 Knaresborough shown within North Yorkshire
Population 14,740 
OS grid reference SE350570
District Harrogate
Shire county North Yorkshire
Region Yorkshire and the Humber
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district HG5
Dialling code 01423
Police North Yorkshire
Fire North Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
EU Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament Harrogate and Knaresborough
List of places: UK • England • Yorkshire

Knaresborough is an old and historic market town, spa town and civil parish in the Borough of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England, located on the River Nidd, four miles east of Harrogate.



Knaresborough is mentioned in the Domesday Book[1] as Chednaresburg or Chenaresburg. Knaresborough Castle dates from Norman times;[2] around 1100, the town began to grow and provide a market and attract traders to service the castle. The present parish church, St John's, was established around this time. The earliest name for a Lord of Knaresborough is from around 1115 when Serlo de Burgh held the 'Honour of Knaresborough' from the King.[3]

Hugh de Morville was granted the Honour of Knaresborough in 1158. He was constable of Knaresborough and leader of the group of four knights who murdered Archbishop Thomas Beckett at Canterbury Cathedral on 29 December 1170. The four knights fled to Knaresborough and hid at the castle. Hugh de Morville forfeited the lands in 1173, not for his implication in the murder of Thomas Becket, but for "complicity in the rebellion of young Henry", according to the Early Yorkshire Charters.

The Honour of Knaresborough then passed to the Stuteville family. When the Stuteville line was broken with the death of Robert de Stuteville the 4th in 1205, King John effectively took the Honour of Knaresborough for himself.[4]

Dr Arnold Kellet has established that the first Maundy Money was given out in Knaresborough by King John on 15 April 1210.[5][6] Knaresborough Forest, which extended far south, is reputed to have been one of King John's favourite hunting grounds.

Although a market was first mentioned in 1206, the town was not granted a Royal Charter to hold a market until 1310, by Edward II. A market is still held every Wednesday in the market square. During Edward II's reign, the castle was occupied by rebels and the curtain walls were breached by a siege engine. Later, Scots invaders burned much of the town and the parish church. In 1328, as part of the marriage settlement, Queen Philippa was granted "the Castle, Town, Forest and Honour of Knaresborough" by Edward III and the parish church was restored. After her death in 1369, the Honour was granted by Edward to their younger son, John of Gaunt.

During the Civil War, following the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644, the castle was besieged by Parliamentary forces. The castle eventually fell and in 1646 an order was made by Parliament for its destruction (but not carried out till 1648). The destruction was mainly done by citizens looting the stone. Many town centre buildings are built of 'castle stone'.

The Bishop of Knaresborough is a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds.

Attractions and events

Sights in the town include the remains of Knaresborough Castle, Mother Shipton's petrifying well, The House in the Rock, and several cave dwellings, one a chapel, dating from the Middle Ages. Knaresborough is also the site of Ye Oldest Chymist Shoppe in England, opened in 1720. There is also the Courthouse Museum in the castle grounds.

The Dropping Well in 1985, showing a selection of petrified toys
Knaresborough Castle

Every year the town hosts a number of large social events, chief among them being the "Knaresborough Bed Race". Every summer, teams of locals and visitors, comprising six runners and one passenger, decorate special tube frame 'beds' for a parade through the town. Then, once the beds have been stripped of their non-essential decorations, they compete to push the bed on a combination race/time trial through the town. The climax of the race comes when the teams must cross the River Nidd and climb a steep muddy bank to reach the finish line. Beds without sufficient flotation devices have been known to sink. Although most teams are local, competitors often come from across the country and from Knaresborough's German twin town Bebra to compete. Past celebrities who have taken part include James Whale, Rory McGrath and Peter Duncan, who famously ran the course for his show 'Duncan Dares'.

Another notable sporting feature is the Knaresborough Fun Run, which takes place in May every year. This is organised by King James's School, and raises money for the PTA. There is a 2.5 mile course, run round the town, taking in Abbey Road, and Crag Top, and a 10K route, which heads out towards the villages.

There is also a yearly arts festival, FEVA (Festival of Entertainment and Visual Arts), which has been running since 2001. This takes place in the summer in various parts of the town centre.[7]


Public Open Spaces

The principal areas of public open space in the town are the Knaresborough Castle grounds, the nearby Bebra Gardens (formerly Moat Gardens) named after Knaresborough's twin town in Germany, the Conyngham Hall grounds, Horseshoe Field, the King George V Playing Field and Jacob Smith Park, a 30-hectare parkland on the edge of the town bequeathed to Knaresborough by Miss Winifred Jacob Smith. There is currently a project underway to revamp the Bebra gardens

Famous residents

River Nidd at night
River Nidd and Knaresborough
  • St Robert, a 12th-century hermit. St Robert's cave can be found near the river Nidd.
  • Ursula Southeil, better known as Mother Shipton, was a medieval seer who is said to have been born in a cave south of the town.
  • John Metcalf, otherwise known as "Blind Jack". Lost his sight in childhood, violin player, local guide, bridgebuilder and roadmaker. A public house in the market square bears his name.
  • Philip Inman, 1st Baron Inman, former Chairman of the BBC, was born here.
  • Guy Fawkes once lived in Scotton, near Knaresborough.
  • Richard II was imprisoned in the town.
  • Robert Aagaard, a Knaresborough manufacturer, founded the youth movement Cathedral Camps.
  • The four knights accused of murdering Thomas Becket were said to have taken refuge in Knaresborough.
  • The noted 18th-century scholar and murderer Eugene Aram lived here.


Knaresborough is served by Knaresborough railway station, on the Harrogate Line to Leeds and York and is serviced by Northern Rail. The town lies some four miles from junction 47 of the A1 (M) Motorway (Great North Road). It is further served by the Harrogate and District bus company.


Knaresborough Town F.C. are the town's predominant football team and are based at Manse Lane; they play in the West Yorkshire Football League. Knaresborough Celtic also provide youth football with junior teams from Under 6s to Under 17s.

Knaresborough Forest Cricket Club were crowned Nidderdale League Division 3 winners in 2005 then promoted from Division 2 as runners-up in the following season.

Another club, Knaresborough Cricket Club, have a ground along Aspin Lane. Various adult and junior teams play in the Nidderdale Cricket League. Coaching and net practice facilities for juniors (7 – 15 years age groups) are available on Friday evenings from late April to late July every year. There are bar facilities and rooms available for hire.

Location grid

North: Boroughbridge
West: Harrogate Knaresborough East: York
South: Wetherby

See also


  1. ^ "A Brief History". Harrogate council. 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-24.  
  2. ^ "Knaresborough Castle". Knaresborough online. 2005. Retrieved 2007-07-24.  
  3. ^ Turner, Dr Maurice. (1990). A Brief History of Knaresborough
  4. ^
  5. ^ Kellett, Arnold (1991). Historic Knaresborough. ISBN 978-1870071666.  
  6. ^ Kellett, Arnold. Knaresborough (2003) The History Press Ltd. ISBN 0752430173.
  7. ^ FEVA - Knaresborough Festival of Entertainment and Visual Arts

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel


Knaresburough is a town in North Yorkshire. It is sometimes used for jigsaw puzzles because of its general setting

Get in

Trains from Leeds and York. Knaresborough is on the A59 between Harrogate and York.

  • The castle.
  • Old Mother Shipton's Cave and Dripping Well [1]
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

KNARESBOROUGH, a market town in the Ripon parliamentary division of the West Riding of Yorkshire, England, 162 m. W. by N. from York by a branch of the North Eastern railway. Pop. of urban district (1901), 4979. Its situation is most picturesque, on the steep left bank of the river Nidd, which here follows a well-wooded valley, hemmed in by limestone cliffs. The church of St John the Baptist is Early English, but has numerous Decorated and Perpendicular additions; it is a cruciform building containing several interesting monuments. Knaresborough Castle was probably founded in 1070 by Serlo de Burgh. Its remains, however, are of the 14th century, and include a massive keep rising finely from a cliff above the Nidd. After the battle of Marston Moor it was taken by Fairfax, and in 1648 it was ordered to be dismantled. To the south of the castle is St Robert's chapel, an excavation in the rock constructed into an ecclesiastical edifice in the reign of Richard I. Several of the excavations in the limestone, which is extensively quarried, are incorporated in dwelling-houses. A little farther down the river is St Robert's cave, which is supposed to have been the residence of the hermit, and in 1744 was the scene of the murder of Daniel Clarke by Eugene Aram, whose story is told in Lytton's wellknown novel. Opposite the castle is the Dropping Well, the waters of which are impregnated with lime and have petrifying power, this action causing the curious and beautiful incrustations formed where the water falls over a slight cliff. The Knaresborough free grammar school was founded in 1616. There is a large agricultural trade, and linen and leather manufactures and the quarries also employ a considerable number of persons.

Knaresborough (Canardesburg, Cnarreburc, Cknareburg), which belonged to the Crown before the Conquest, formed part of William the Conqueror's grant to his follower Serlo de Burgh. Being forfeited by his grandson Eustace FitzJohn in the reign of Stephen, Knaresborough was granted to Robert de Stuteville, from whose descendants it passed through marriage to Hugh de Morville, one of the murderers of Thomas Becket, who with his three accomplices remained in hiding in the castle for a whole year. During the 13th and 14th centuries the castle and lordship changed hands very frequently; they were granted successively to Hubert de Burgh, whose son forfeited them after the battle of Evesham, to Richard, earl of Cornwall, whose son Edmund died without issue; to Piers Gaveston, and lastly to John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, and so to the Crown as parcel of the duchy of Lancaster. In 1317 John de Lilleburn, who was holding the castle of Knaresburgh for Thomas duke of Lancaster against the king, surrendered under conditions to William de Ros of Hamelak, but before leaving the castle managed to destroy all the records of the liberties and privileges of the town which were kept in the castle. In 1368 an inquisition was taken to ascertain these privileges, and the jurors found that the burgesses held "all the soil of their borough yielding 7s. 4d. yearly and doing suit at the king's court." In the reign of Henry VIII. Knaresborough is said by Leland to be "no great thing and meanely builded but the market there is quik." During the civil wars Knaresborough was held for some time by the Royalists, but they were obliged to surrender, and the castle was among those ordered to be destroyed by parliament in 1646. A market on Wednesday and a fortnightly fair on the same day from the Feast of St Mark to that of St Andrew are claimed under a charter of Charles II. confirming earlier charters. Lead ore was found and worked on Knaresborough Common in the 16th century. From 1555 to 1867 the town returned two members to parliament, but in the latter year the number was reduced to one, and in 1885 the representation was merged in that of the West Riding.

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