Knaresborough Castle – Yorkshire
Standing on a hill overlooking the River Nidd, Knaresborough Castle was a favourite residence of early English kings.
Built following the Norman Conquest, the castle has been in royal control or held directly by the Crown throughout its history. King John took a particular interest in Knaresborough, and often stayed in the castle while hunting in the Forest of Knaresborough. He is reputed to have spent more money on the castles at Knaresborough and Scarborough than on any others in the country.
Edward II granted the Honor and Castle of Knaresborough to Piers Gaveston, one of his favourites. Gaveston was extremely unpopular among the barons who disliked his influence over the King. In 1311, under pressure from the barons, he was banished but was later readmitted to the country. The following year Gaveston was besieged at Scarborough Castle; Edward II stayed at Knaresborough Castle to be close at hand.
In 1331, Edward III’s wife, Queen Philippa received the Honor and castle of Knaresborough as part of her marriage settlement. While in her possession the castle became firmly established as a royal residence. Queen Philippa spent many summers in the castle with her young family, including her son, John of Gaunt.
In 1372 the Honor and Castle of Knaresborough and the Honor of Tickhill were part of a settlement granted to John of Gaunt by his father, King Edward III, in exchange for the Earldom of Richmond. From that time onwards the castle has belonged to the Duchy of Lancaster.
After the accession of Henry IV the castle no longer played an important role in national affairs, but it continued to play a part in regional administration through the manor courts held there.
Knaresborough Castle was held for the Royalists at the beginning of the Civil War, but in 1644 it was besieged and taken by the Parliamentarians. In 1646 Parliament ordered the castle to be rendered unusable and demolition commenced. Only the King’s Tower and the courthouse survived.
The ruins, mostly dating from the fourteenth century, are open to the public. For further information and opening times see www.castlexplorer.co.uk.