The Royal Oak

and Knaresborough





Knaresborough is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Chenaresburg, meaning 'Cenheard's fortress'. Knaresborough Castle 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.
The town was granted a Royal Charter to hold a market in 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, 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.

During 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'.

Knaresborough House on the High Street houses Knaresborough Town Council.

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.


The Riverside, cafes and boats 
The Dropping Well at Mother Shipton's houses a selection of petrified items.

Sights in the town include the remains of Knaresborough Castle, Mother Shipton's Cave, the House in the Rock, and St Roberts Cave (dating from the Middle Ages).
Knaresborough is the site of Ye Oldest Chymist Shoppe in England, opened in 1720 and the Courthouse Museum in the castle grounds.
Public open spaces are the Knaresborough Castle grounds, Horseshoe Field, the King George V Playing Field and Jacob Smith Park, a 30 acres parkland on the edge of the town, bequeathed to Knaresborough by Miss Winifred Jacob Smith in 2003.
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.



viaductThe Railway Viaduct over the River Nidd
Knaresborough has excellent transport links. It is served by Knaresborough railway station, on the Harrogate Line between Leeds and York. The town is only four miles 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.





Notable people

St Robert, a 12th-century hermit whose cave can be found near the River Nidd.
Ursula Southeil, known as Mother Shipton, was a medieval seer said to have been born in a cave south of the town.
John Metcalf, known as "Blind Jack", lost his sight in childhood and was a violin player, local guide, bridgebuilder and roadmaker. A public house in the market square bears his name.
Robert Aagaard, a Knaresborough manufacturer, founded the youth movement Cathedral Camps.
Eugene Aram, the 18th century scholar and murderer lived here.
Squadron Leader James Harry "Ginger" Lacey DFM & Bar, Second World War RAF fighter pilot, attended school in Knaresborough.

Knaresborough Landmarks



A walk along the Riverside you will find cafes and boating and the remains of Knaresborough Castle. Knaresborough is the site of Ye Oldest Chymist Shoppe in England, opened in 1720.


Knaresborough Sights

The House in the Rock, St Roberts Cave (dating from the Middle Ages) and The Dropping Well at Mother Shipton's housing a selection of petrified items and the Courthouse Museum is in the castle grounds.


Transport Links

The Railway Viaduct over the River Nidd is magnificent!. Knaresborough has excellent transport links. It is served by Knaresborough railway station, on the Harrogate Line between Leeds and York. The town is only four miles 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.

Knaresborough Annual Events



Knaresborough's Festival of Entertainment and Visual Arts (FEVA) drapes the town in Pink and sees a 9-day packed programme of art, music, spoken word and all-round entertainment for the whole family. Held on the second week of August each year.


Knaresborough in Bloom

Every year Knaesborough in Bloom awards prizes for gardens in the town in variuos categories. This is us in 2012, the very proud winners of the Best Business Property award!


Easter and Christmas Markets

Join us on the first weekend in December for a wonderful festive event at Knaresborough's Christmas Market, with quality stalls, shops and lively entertainment.  And our Easter Fayre is held on Easter weekend each year with stalls and entertainment. 



Fright Night

The Zombies have been massing their forces and are almost ready to emerge and bring about Armageddon.We have one slim chance of averting this disaster of biblical proportions, and that is if someone can discover the whereabouts of the lost scroll containing Mother Shiptons last prophesy and read it out aloud, then the Zombie hordes will be banished forever...Last saturday in October. More info here


Knaresborough Fun run

The Knaresborough Fun Run and Gala was first held at King James’s School in 1986. It is usually held on the second Sunday in May on the King James's School school playing fields. It regularly attracts 3,000 visitors, of whom about 1000 take part in the 2.5 mile Fun Run and 150 in the more demanding 7 mile trail run. The Gala element regularly includes rides and assault courses, burger and bacon sandwich bars, car boot sales and charity stands.


The Great Knaresborough Bed Race

Each year the Bed Race features 90 teams of six runners and a passenger – that's 630 people sweating around the course. The Great Knaresborough Bed Race is something different: it is part fancy dress pageant and part gruelling time trial over a 2.4 mile course, ending with a swim through the icy waters of the River Nidd.The Royal Oak is on the route for both the race and the parade. 


Tour de France - The Grand Depart in Knaresborough

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2014 saw the world's greatest cycling race coursing through our town. The whole town dressed up for the event. Placed as we are at the bottom of the High Street, we had fabulous views of the race and the world had fabulous views of our "spotty house"!

Our Spotty House!

We could nor resist the chance to make our mark during the cycling festival, knowing our house would be seen across the world due to its position on the race route. We quite fancied becoming a Yorkshire Tea box, but opted for spots in the end!


T-Shirt Challenge

Lori spearheaded the town's unique 'bunting' challenge by arranging for 2,300 t-shirts to be painted by each schoolchild in the town. 


Yellow Bike trail

Tony, Lori and a team of helpers collected bikes and had them powder-sprayed yellow to decorate the town. This turned into a fun bike trail with each bike having its own funny name. Following the tour, the bikes were reconditioned and sent to an Africa charity.


Tour de France - The Legacy


Bond End Legacy Garden

A lasting legacy of the Tour de France. The garden is on the route that the Tour de France took through Knaresborough, located close to the Worlds End pub on Bond End. The metal cycle sculptures were created by Graham Anderton, the carved sheep were created by Mick Burns and the dry stone wall by Scott Winship


Trompe l'Oeil

The Knaresborough Town Window Project has created a number of wonderful trompe l'oeil pictures around the town. In 2014, Julie Cope was commissioned to paint three new windows as a legacy for Le Tour de France, featuring our own local cycling heroes.


Best Dressed TdF Town Award!

Knaresborough won the Welcome to Yorkshire award for best-dressed town for the Tour de France - no surprise there, as we all know how wonderful it looked.

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The Grand Depart

The view from our front windows as the cyclists raced down the High Street on Stage 2 of the race through Yorkshire.