Please book online for a guaranteed time slot. This also helps manage numbers, limit queuing and reduce contact for a more enjoyable and relaxed experience. Skipton Castle has received the new Visit Britain Kitemark “Good to Go” in recognition of our continuing work to make Skipton Castle as safe as we can for all our visitors and staff. We will continue to follow UK industry and government updates based on the latest advice. Bookings for self guiding tours are available via our website.
Guardian of the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales for over 900 years, this unique fortress is one of the most complete and well-preserved medieval castles in England. Standing on a 40-metre high crag, fully-roofed Skipton Castle was founded around 1090 by Robert de Romille, one of William the Conqueror’s Barons, as a fortress in the dangerous northern reaches of the kingdom.
Owned by King Edward I and Edward II, from 1310 it became the stronghold of the Clifford Lords withstanding successive raids by marauding Scots.
During the Civil War it was the last Royalist bastion in the North, yielding only after a three-year siege in 1645. ?Slighted’ under the orders of Cromwell, the castle was skilfully restored by the redoubtable Lady Anne Clifford and today visitors can climb from the depths of the Dungeon to the top of the Watch Tower, and explore the Banqueting Hall, the Kitchens, the Bedchamber and even the Privy!
Every period has left its mark, from the Norman entrance and the Medieval towers, to the beautiful Tudor courtyard with the great yew tree planted by Lady Anne in 1659. Here visitors can see the coat of arms of John Clifford, the infamous ‘Bloody’ Clifford of Shakespeare’s Henry VI, who fought and died in the Wars of the Roses whereupon the castle was possessed by Richard III.
Throughout the turbulent centuries of English history, the Clifford Lords fought at Bannockburn, at Agincourt and in the Wars of the Roses. The most famous of them all was George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland, Champion to Elizabeth I, Admiral against the Spanish Armada and conqueror of Puerto Rico in 1598.
In the castle grounds visitors can see the Tudor wing built as a royal wedding present for Lady Eleanor Brandon, niece of Henry VIII, the beautiful Shell Room decorated in the 1620s with shells and Jamaican coral and the ancient medieval chapel of St. John the Evangelist. The Chapel Terrace, with its delightful picnic area, has fine views over the woods and Skipton’s lively market town.