Knaresborough is an historic market town and spa town in the Borough of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England, located four miles east of Harrogate town.


Knaresborough is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Chednaresburg or Chenaresburg. Knaresborough Castle dates from Norman times, and around 1100, the town began to grow and provide a market and attract traders to service the castle. The present Parish church of St. John's was also 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 .

Dr Arnold Kellett has established that the first Maundy Money was given out in Knaresborough by King John. Knaresborough Forest, which extended far south, is reputed to have been one of King John's favourite hunting grounds.

During the Civil War, following the Battle of Marston Moor (July 2 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 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 the oldest chemist shop in England, opened in 1720.

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 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 principle 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. 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

  • 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 also 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. However, 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.

Location grid

See also


External links

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