Skipton Castle
Castle Skipton North Yorkshire

Skipton Castle

Castle In Skipton, North Yorkshire

Medieval castle, home to the Clifford family for 400 years

Last year we stayed in Skipton and found it a lovely place to visit with castles, estates, walks and lovely places to eat and drink. First on our to do list though was Skipton Castle.

The castle has a rather grand entrance as you walk up to it. It is a two-storey structure with two round towers, each with a chimney and a round stair turret. The upper part of the gatehouse was restored in the mid-17th century, and the parapet bears the Clifford family motto Desormais, meaning "Henceforth".

As you pass into the inner bailey you can see the castle in all of it's glory and you might spot the loos and tearoom too.

The castle is one of the most complete and best preserved medieval castles in the country, and has a fascinating history dating back over 900 years. It was built in the late 11th century by Norman Baron Robert de Romille. It was originally a motte and bailey castle, but was later expanded and fortified by the Clifford family, who owned it for over 400 years.

The Cliffords were a powerful family of barons who played a significant role in English history. They were supporters of the Lancastrians during the Wars of the Roses, and their castle was besieged by the Yorkists on several occasions.

Skipton Castle was also involved in the English Civil War. It was the last Royalist stronghold in the north of England, and was besieged by Parliamentarian forces for three years. The castle finally surrendered in 1645, and was subsequently partially demolished by order of Oliver Cromwell.

In the 17th century, Skipton Castle came into the possession of Lady Anne Clifford, a formidable woman who was a great patron of the arts. She restored the castle to its former glory, and it remained in the Clifford family until the 19th century.

Lady Clifford was very wealthy and made vast improvements to other castles in the area including Pendragon Castle, Brougham Castle and Brough Castle. At Skipton she restored the defences, created the beautiful courtyard we see today and rebuilt the living quarters.

The interior of Skipton Castle is one of the most well-preserved in England. The first floor comprises the original kitchen, great hall, withdrawing rooms and the lord's bedchamber. The ground floor houses new kitchens, storage and work cellars. The remaining towers are military in nature and purpose.

The great hall is the largest room in the castle and would have been used for feasting, entertainment and political meetings. It is a long, rectangular room with a high vaulted ceiling. The walls are lined with fireplaces and windows, and there is a central dais for the lord and his family.

If you fancy seeing the castle from a different angle you can wander down to the Long Dam and follow the path to Skipton Woods which is a lovely walk if you want to extend your visit.

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Contributed by Sandra Clemens

I love the great outdoors and have been a National Trust & English Heritage member for years. I also love going off the beaten track and finding places like Sharp's Folly or Rothley Castle which are hidden gems in Northumberland. My favourite recent hike was climbing Red Screes in the Lake District on a whim, not fully grasping how high 776m was. It was still an achievement to conquer a Wainwright walk and I hope to do more one day.

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Sandra Clemens

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Skipton Castle was listed in Castle // North Yorkshire // Skipton