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


Knaresborough is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Chednaresburg or Chenaresburg. Knaresborough Castlemarker dates from Norman times; 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.

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 Cathedralmarker 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.

Dr Arnold Kellet has established that the first Maundy Money was given out in Knaresborough by King John on 15 April 1210. 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 Moormarker 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 Leedsmarker.

Attractions and events

Sights in the town include the remains of Knaresborough Castlemarker, 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 Niddmarker 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 Bebramarker 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.

Public Open Spaces

The principal areas of public open space in the town are the Knaresborough Castlemarker grounds, the nearby Bebra Gardens (formerly Moat Gardens) named after Knaresborough's twin town in Germanymarker, 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 stationmarker, on the Harrogate Line to Leedsmarker and Yorkmarker and is serviced by Northern Rail. The town lies some four miles from junction 47 of the A1 marker Motorway (Great North Road). It is further served by the Harrogate and District bus company.


Knaresborough Town F.C.marker 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

See also


  1. Turner, Dr Maurice. (1990). A Brief History of Knaresborough
  3. Kellett, Arnold. Knaresborough (2003) The History Press Ltd. ISBN 0752430173.
  4. FEVA - Knaresborough Festival of Entertainment and Visual Arts

External links


File:Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag.jpg|Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag, KnaresboroughFile:House in the Rock.jpg|House in the RockFile:Kirkgate, Knaresborough.jpg|Kirkgate, KnaresboroughFile:Knaresborough war memorial.jpg|War Memorial, KnaresboroughFile:St John's Church, Knaresborough.jpg|St John's Church, KnaresboroughFile:Knaresborough.jpg|River Nidd, KnaresboroughFile:Knaresborough railway station - platform 2 in 2008.jpg|Knaresborough railway stationFile:Knaresborough Castle ruins.jpg|Knaresborough CastleFile:Igraine_and_Raven.jpg|Her Majesty's Keeper of Castle Ravens, IgraineFile:Knaresborough_Viaduct.jpg|The elegant stone viaduct over the River NiddFile:Knaresborough_Castle_From_River.jpg|Knaresborough Castle viewed through the viaductFile:The_Moorings.jpg|Old riverside buildings

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