Knaresborough (/ˈnɛərzbərə/ NAIRZ-bər-ə) is a market and spa town and civil parish in the Borough of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England, on the River Nidd 4 miles (6.4 km) east of Harrogate.

Knaresborough view

View of the River Nidd from the ruins of Knaresborough Castle
Knaresborough is located in North Yorkshire
Location within North Yorkshire
Population15,441 (2011 census)[1]
OS grid referenceSE350570
• London186 mi (299 km) SE
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtHG5
Dialling code01423
PoliceNorth Yorkshire
FireNorth Yorkshire
EU ParliamentYorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament


Market Place, Knaresborough (19th March 2013) 002
Knaresborough Market Place.

Knaresborough is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Chenaresburg, meaning "Cenheard's fortress",[2][3] in the wapentake of Burghshire,[4] renamed Claro Wapentake in the 12th century. Knaresborough Castle is Norman;[5] 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 identified Lord of Knaresborough is around 1115 when Serlo de Burgh held the Honour of Knaresborough from the King.[6]

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 Becket 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 Henry the Young King", 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 the 4th (son of Robert 3rd) in 1205, King John effectively took the Honour of Knaresborough for himself.[7] The first Maundy Money was distributed in Knaresborough by King John on 15 April 1210.[8][9] Knaresborough Forest, which extended far to the south of the town, 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. In 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, the Duke of Lancaster and since then the castle has belonged to the Duchy of Lancaster. After the accession of Henry IV the castle lost much of its importance in national affairs, but remained a key site in regional administration for another century.

In 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 railway age began in Knaresborough in 1848 with the opening of a railway station on Hay Park Lane; this was replaced with the current one three years later in 1851. The town had a railway line to Boroughbridge until it closed to passengers in 1950; it was dismantled in 1964.

Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, Knaresborough became part of North Yorkshire in 1974.

Culture and community

Rowing Boats, Knaresborough - - 272034
The rowing boats on the River Nidd are a popular tourist attraction in the town.

Knaresborough House on the High Street houses Knaresborough Town Council and the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs.[10]

Knaresborough hosts the annual Bed Race, organized by the Knaresborough Lions Club. It is held on the second Saturday of June. The event was first staged in 1966.[11]

An annual town centre arts summer festival, FEVA (Festival of Entertainment and Visual Arts), has run since 2001.[12]

Knaresborough hosts its own parkrun[13] , Conyngham Hall parkrun, which started in May 2019. It takes places every Saturday at Conyngham Hall, with the exception of Bed Race day.

The town was used in the opening election sequence in the first episode of the ITV comedy series The New Statesman and some exterior shots for the series were filmed around Knaresborough.[14]

The Frazer Theatre is just off High Street.


Sights in the town include the remains of Knaresborough Castle, the Courthouse Museum in the castle grounds, Mother Shipton's Cave, the House in the Rock, St Robert's Cave (dating from the Middle Ages), and the railway viaduct over the River Nidd.

The House in the Rock, also known as Fort Montague, is a local Knaresborough curiosity. In the early 19th century, a strange child appeared in the Hill family. This child had abnormal very blonde woolly hair resembling the fleece of a sheep and was known as the Woolly-Headed Boy of Fort Montague. He conducted visitors around the house and was a great curiosity himself.[15]

The Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag on Abbey Road is a Grade I listed shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary.[16] It was built in 1408 by John the Mason after his son, who was presumed dead in a rockfall in a local quarry, was found alive, with the son's escape having been attributed to the mason's frequent prayers to Mary.[17]

Knaresborough is the site of Ye Oldest Chymist Shoppe in England, opened in 1720.[18]

The principal areas of public open space are the Knaresborough Castle grounds, Horseshoe Field, the King George V Playing Field and Jacob Smith Park, a 30 acres (12 ha) parkland on the edge of the town, bequeathed to Knaresborough by Miss Winifred Jacob Smith in 2003.[19]

Conyngham Hall is close to the town centre. Until the 1980s there was a small zoo in the grounds.

Near to the castle are Bebra Gardens, formerly the Moat Gardens, renamed after Knaresborough's twin town in Germany.

The Commercial (formerly Borough Bailiff) public house, owned by the Samuel Smith Brewery, is the oldest pub in Knaresborough.[20]


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

House in the Rock

The House in the Rock

Bodleian Libraries, The woolly-headed boy detail

The Woolly-Headed Boy of Fort Montague

Amenities and commerce

The town has a large supermarket Lidl, which is located on the site of a former Co-Op store in Chain Lane,[21] as well as smaller supermarkets in the town centre. The St. James retail park on the outskirts of the town, off Wetherby Road, has a number of retail chain units. The town has 15 public houses, a wine bar, two working men's clubs and several restaurants. There are a number of national retailers with branches in the town centre, mostly around the High Street, Market Place and Castle Courtyard (a shopping arcade in the former town hall). The town also has a small public swimming pool.[22]


Knaresborough is served by Knaresborough railway station, on the Harrogate Line between Leeds and York. The town is 4 miles (6.4 km) from junction 47 of the A1(M) motorway (Great North Road), and on the A59 which links York and Wallasey. It is further served by Transdev and Connexions who both run buses in the area that centre around Knaresborough bus station on the High Street. The closest airport is Leeds Bradford Airport with bus links from neighbouring Harrogate.


Knaresborough is mostly a commuter town however it serves as a local centre for the surrounding rural villages. The town has a small tourism industry and service sector. There is a small industrial estate on Manse Lane in the East of the town. Knaresborough has its own local weekly newspaper; the Knaresborough Post, although it borrows content heavily from neighbouring publications.


St John the Baptist, Knaresborough
St. John the Baptist Church is the largest church in Knaresborough.

The town has two Church of England churches, one Roman Catholic and one Methodist. It also has one United Reformed and one Mormon.


Knaresborough has five primary schools and one secondary school; King James' School. There is a further education college in nearby Harrogate and universities in Leeds and York. The town has a two-storey library on the Market Place.


Knaresborough Town F.C. is based at Manse Lane; they play in the Northern Counties Eastern League Division 1. Youth football is catered for by Knaresborough Celtic with junior teams from Under 6s to Under 17s. Scotton Scorchers offer youth football for boys from the under 6s to under 12s and girls to under 17's. Knaresborough Town are also developing youth football.

Knaresborough Rugby Club play in the Yorkshire Leagues. The club was formed in 1982 and play at their Hay-a-park ground which opened in 2014. Unusually for a Yorkshire town, there is no rugby league club, the closest being in Wetherby.

The town has two cricket clubs. Knaresborough Forest Cricket Club were Nidderdale League Division 3 winners in 2005, afterwards promoted from Division 2 as runners-up in the following season. Knaresborough Cricket Club have a ground on Aspin Lane, where adult teams play in the Airedale & Wharfedale Senior Cricket League and junior teams play in the Nidderdale Junior Cricket League.

On 6 July 2014, Stage 2 of the 2014 Tour de France from York to Sheffield, passed through the town.[23]

Each June, there is a famous bed race at Knaresborough [1].

Notable people

Blind Jack statue, Knaresborough (19th March 2013)
Statue of Blind Jack Metcalf in the market square


  1. ^ UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Knaresborough Parish (1170217036)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  2. ^ Victor Watts (ed.), The Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names Based on the Collections of the English Place-Name Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), s.v. Knaresborough.
  3. ^ "A Brief History" (PDF). Harrogate council. 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2007.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 December 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Open Domesday: Knaresborough
  5. ^ "Knaresborough Castle". Knaresborough online. 2005. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2007.
  6. ^ Turner, Dr Maurice. (1990). A Brief History of Knaresborough
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 May 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Kellett, Arnold (1991). Historic Knaresborough. ISBN 978-1-870071-66-6.
  9. ^ Kellett, Arnold. Knaresborough (2003) The History Press Ltd. ISBN 0-7524-3017-3.
  10. ^ "Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers Clubs". Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  11. ^ "The Great Knaresborough Bed Race". Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  12. ^ "Home - Art, Music, Drama, Dance, Poetry, Flavours - FEVA Knaresborough". Art, Music, Drama, Dance, Poetry, Flavours - FEVA Knaresborough.
  13. ^ "Conyngham Hall parkrun | Conyngham Hall parkrun". Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  14. ^ "Harrogate and District In Film and Television : Pt1 - Visit Harrogate". Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  15. ^ "The House in The Rock". Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  16. ^ Historic England. "CHAPEL OF OUR LADY OF THE CRAG  (Grade I) (1149913)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag". Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  18. ^ "Blue plaque marks oldest chemist's shop..." The Yorkshire Post.
  19. ^ "Park is left for public to enjoy". Rippon Gazette. 24 December 2003. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  20. ^ "The Commercial (formerly Borough Bailiff)". Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  21. ^ "Lidl to open larger replacement store in Knaresborough". Harrogate Advertiser. 8 January 2016. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  22. ^ Chalmers, Graham (17 May 2018). "Water leaks close Harrogate council-owned swimming pool". Harrogate Advertiser. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  23. ^ "Tour de France Stage 1". Archived from the original on 25 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  24. ^ Birth cert: Mar 1848, Forster, Charles Farrar, Knaresborough 23/357
  25. ^ "'Allo 'Allo! star Gorden Kaye dies at 75". BBC News. 23 January 2017. Retrieved 23 January 2017.

External links

Media related to Knaresborough at Wikimedia Commons
Knaresborough travel guide from Wikivoyage

2014 Harrogate Borough Council election

Elections to Harrogate Borough Council were held on 22 May 2014. A third of the council was up for election, with voting only in the urban wards of Harrogate, Knaresborough and Ripon. The elections were held on the same day as the British local elections and the European Parliament elections. Each ward up for election returned a councillor for a four-year term of office.

2018 Harrogate Borough Council election

The 2018 Harrogate Borough Council election took place on 3 May 2018 to elect members of Harrogate Borough Council in England. This was on the same day as other local elections.

Current composition as a result of the election.

A658 road

The A658 is a road in the UK running from Bradford, West Yorkshire (53.7949°N 1.7487°W / 53.7949; -1.7487 (A658 road (southwestern end))), to Knaresborough, North Yorkshire (54.0065°N 1.4327°W / 54.0065; -1.4327 (A658 road (southwestern end))), passing along the way Leeds Bradford International Airport, where it runs through a tunnel directly under the main runway. The road originally terminated south of the village of Pannal at the junction with the A61 but was extended when the south Harrogate and Knaresborough bypass was built and the road now ends east of Knaresborough where it meets the A59.

Bishop of Ripon

The Bishop of Ripon is an episcopal title which takes its name after the city of Ripon in North Yorkshire, England. The bishop is one of the area bishops of the Diocese of Leeds in the Province of York. The area bishop of Ripon has oversight of the archdeaconry of Richmond and Craven, which consists of the deaneries of Bowland, Ewecross, Harrogate, Richmond, Ripon, Skipton, and Wensley.The current title Bishop of Ripon is renamed from Bishop of Knaresborough, which was an episcopal title used by a suffragan bishop of the Church of England Dioceses of Ripon (later Ripon and Leeds) and then of Leeds, in the Province of York, England. The title took its name after the historic market and spa town of Knaresborough in North Yorkshire.

The Diocese of Ripon and Leeds was dissolved on 20 April 2014 and its former territory was added to the new Diocese of Leeds. The first Area Bishop of Ripon was James Bell, who had previously been the suffragan Bishop of Knaresborough and area bishop in Ripon; and acting diocesan Bishop of Ripon and Leeds until the dissolution of that diocese.

Following the creation of the Diocese of Leeds on 20 April 2014, the see of Knaresborough was eventually renamed to become the suffragan see for the area Bishop of Ripon. To that end the General Synod approved a petition from the Bishop of Leeds in February 2015; that petition was approved by the Queen-in-Council on 19 March 2015 and so the see was translated to Ripon.

James Bell continued in the same See, becoming the area Bishop of Ripon. On 9 November 2017, it was announced that Helen-Ann Hartley, Bishop of Waikato (in Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia) was to become the next Bishop of Ripon and she was installed on 4 February 2018.

Borough of Harrogate

The Borough of Harrogate is a local government district and borough of North Yorkshire, England. Its population at the census of 2011 was 157,869. Its council is based in the town of Harrogate, but it also includes surrounding towns and villages and almost all of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is the most populous district of North Yorkshire. The district is part of the Leeds City Region. It borders the City of Leeds, and the City of Bradford, districts of West Yorkshire.

The district was formed on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, as a merger of the Masham and Wath rural districts, and part of Thirsk Rural District, from the North Riding of Yorkshire, along with the boroughs of Harrogate and the city of Ripon, the Knaresborough urban district, Nidderdale Rural District, Ripon and Pateley Bridge Rural District, part of Wetherby Rural District and part of Wharfedale Rural District, all in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

On 1 April 1996 the parishes of Nether Poppleton, Upper Poppleton, Hessay and Rufforth were transferred from the district to become part of the new York unitary authority. According to the 2001 census these parishes had a population of 5,169.

English feudal barony

In the kingdom of England, a feudal barony or barony by tenure was the highest degree of feudal land tenure, namely per baroniam (Latin for "by barony"), under which the land-holder owed the service of being one of the king's barons. The duties owed by and the privileges granted to feudal barons cannot now be defined exactly, but they involved the duty of providing soldiers to the royal feudal army on demand by the king, and the privilege of attendance at the king's feudal court, the precursor of parliament.

If the estate-in-land held by barony contained a significant castle as its caput baroniae and if it was especially large – consisting of more than about 20 knight's fees (each loosely equivalent to a manor) – then it was termed an honour. The typical honour had properties scattered over several shires, intermingled with the properties of others. This was a specific policy of the Norman kings, to avoid establishing any one area under the control of a single lord. Usually, though, a more concentrated cluster existed somewhere. Here would lie the caput (head) of the honour, with a castle that gave its name to the honour and served as its administrative headquarters. The term honour particular usefulness for the eleventh and twelfth centuries, before the development of an extensive peerage hierarchy.

This type of barony is different than the type of feudal barony which existed within a county palatine, such as the barony of Halton within the Palatinate of Chester.

HG postcode area

The HG postcode area, also known as the Harrogate postcode area, is a group of five postcode districts in England, which are subdivisions of three post towns. These postcode districts cover Harrogate, Ripon and Knaresborough in North Yorkshire.

HG1 and HG2 cover most of Harrogate; HG1 covering areas north of The Stray while HG2 covers areas to the south. HG3 spans across some of the western suburbs as well as a large rural area north and west of the town. HG4 covers Ripon and some surrounding settlements and rural areas. HG5 covers Knaresborough and some rural areas to the north and east.


Harrogate ( HARR-ə-gət) is a spa town in North Yorkshire, England. Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the town is a tourist destination and its visitor attractions include its spa waters and RHS Harlow Carr gardens. 13 miles (21 km) away from the town centre is the Yorkshire Dales national park and the Nidderdale AONB. Harrogate grew out of two smaller settlements, High Harrogate and Low Harrogate, in the 17th century. Since 2013, polls have consistently voted the town as "the happiest place to live" in Britain.Harrogate spa water contains iron, sulphur and common salt. The town became known as 'The English Spa' in the Georgian era, after its waters were discovered in the 16th century. In the 17th and 18th centuries its 'chalybeate' waters (containing iron) were a popular health treatment, and the influx of wealthy but sickly visitors contributed significantly to the wealth of the town.

Harrogate railway station and Harrogate bus station in the town centre provide transport connections. Leeds Bradford International Airport is 10 miles (16 km) southwest of Harrogate. The main roads through the town are the A61, connecting Harrogate to Leeds and Ripon, and the A59, connecting the town to York and Skipton. Harrogate is also connected to Wetherby and the A1(M), by the A661. The town of Harrogate had a population of 71,594 at the 2001 UK census; the urban area comprising Harrogate and nearby Knaresborough had a population of 85,128, while the figure for the much wider Borough of Harrogate, comprising Harrogate, Knaresborough, Ripon, as well as a number of smaller settlements and a large rural area, was 151,339.The town motto is Arx celebris fontibus, which means "a citadel famous for its springs."

Harrogate and Knaresborough (UK Parliament constituency)

Harrogate and Knaresborough () is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2010 by Andrew Jones of the Conservative Party.

King James's School, Knaresborough

King James's School is located on King James Road, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, England. King James's is a large non-selective school with a large sixth form.

Knaresborough (UK Parliament constituency)

Knaresborough was a parliamentary constituency which returned two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom until 1868, and then one MP until its abolition in 1885.

Knaresborough Castle

Knaresborough Castle is a ruined fortress overlooking the River Nidd in the town of Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, England.

Knaresborough Town A.F.C.

Knaresborough Town Association Football Club is a football club based in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, England. They are currently members of the Northern Counties East League Premier Division and play at Manse Lane.

Knaresborough railway station

Knaresborough railway station is a Grade II listed station serving the town of Knaresborough in North Yorkshire, England. It is located on the Harrogate Line 16.75 miles (27 km) west of York and is operated by Northern who provide all passenger train services.

Phil Willis

George Philip Willis, Baron Willis of Knaresborough (born 30 November 1941, Burnley) is a politician in the United Kingdom. He is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords, and was Member of Parliament (MP) for Harrogate and Knaresborough from 1997 until retiring at the 2010 general election. Up to that date he was the chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.

Pilmoor, Boroughbridge and Knaresborough Railway

The Pilmoor, Boroughbridge and Knaresborough Railway was a railway line in North Yorkshire, England, that connected Pilmoor on the East Coast Main Line with the towns of Boroughbridge and Knaresborough.

River Nidd

The River Nidd is a tributary of the River Ouse in the English county of North Yorkshire. In its first few miles it is dammed three times to create Angram Reservoir, Scar House Reservoir and Gouthwaite Reservoir which attract around 150,000 visitors a year. The Nidd can overflow the reservoirs, flooding the caves in the valley, in which case the river then flows along the normally dry river bed past Lofthouse through to Gouthwaite Reservoir. The Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust YDRT has a remit to conserve the ecological condition of the River Nidd from its headwaters to the Humber estuary. The river gets its name for the Celtic word for brilliant.The upper river valley, Nidderdale, was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1994.

St Robert's Church, Pannal

St Robert's Church, Pannal, North Yorkshire, England, also known as St Robert of Knaresborough Parish Church, is a Grade II* listed building. A 13th-century wooden church dedicated to St Michael was rebuilt in sandstone in the 14th century by monks of the Trinitarian Order from Knaresborough Priory. It was perhaps then that it was rededicated to Robert of Knaresborough. Its nave was rebuilt in the 18th century, restored in the 19th and remodelled in the 20th. Extensions were added in the 20th century. It is a parish church, and the vicar also serves the Church of St Michael and All Angels, Beckwithshaw.

Yorkshire 4

Yorkshire 4 is an English Rugby Union league at the tenth tier of the domestic competition for teams from Yorkshire. Club rugby in Yorkshire operates without promotion play-offs meaning that the top two teams are automatically promoted to Yorkshire 3 and the bottom two teams were relegated to Yorkshire 5 until the RFU made changes to the Yorkshire league structure. Each season a team from Yorkshire 3 or Yorkshire 4 may be picked to take part in the RFU Junior Vase - a national competition for clubs at levels 9-12.

For the 2017-18 season, Yorkshire 4 was broken up into two regional leagues - Yorkshire 4 (North West) and Yorkshire 4 (South East) - while Yorkshire 5 ceased to exist. Teams from both Yorkshire 4 and 5 were transferred into the regional divisions depending on location with promotion to Yorkshire 3 ultimately decided after a final round of fixtures featuring the top four clubs from each division playing in a Premier division with the remaining clubs participating in a Shield division.

Places adjacent to Knaresborough
Unitary authorities
Boroughs or districts
Major settlements

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