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May 2023                    Knaresborough 

The picturesque market town of Knaresborough paints a picture of calm anjd tranquility on the idyllic River Nidd in North Yorkshire.

But its history is anything but, with tales of assassination, magical wells and England’s most famous prophetess.

At the centre of the historic town lies the ruins of Knaresborough Castle, which once housed four of the most notorious assassins in history.

The year was 1170 when Hugh de Moreville, Reginald Fitzurse, William de Tracy and Richard le Bret carried out the gruesome murder of then-Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket – one of the most powerful figures of his time.

After finding him inside Canterbury Cathedral, the foursome launched a string of fatal blows which “scattered his brains across the floor” before fleeing north and barricading themselves in Knaresborough Castle for a year.

Legend has it that, over the 12 months, they suffered overwhelming guilt and Divine Justice – with animals shrinking away from the knights and dogs even refusing their crumbs.

Fast forward to the present day, and visitors can walk around its grounds with its awe-inspiring views, discover the dungeon and even secret tunnel.

A short 10-minute walk along the river, passing the stunning Knaresborough Viaduct, takes you to the oldest tourist attraction in England.

Mother Shipton’s Cave is named after its once-famous inhabitant, who lived in and around the area from 1488-1561.

Born Ursula Southeil but later becoming known as Old Mother Shipton, she grew up to have a large and crooked nose, bent back and twisted legs – just like a witch.

Her appearance saw many fear and shun her and she retreated to the cave where she started to have chillingly accurate visions of the future.

They started small but, as years went on, she “predicted” the dissolution of the monasteries, the rise of Elizabeth I and even the Great Fire of London – despite dying more than 100 years before the capital went up in flames.

The cave attracts thousands of tourists every year, as does its neighbour the Petrifying Well.

As if the image of a witch-like soothsayer living inside a cave wasn’t fairytale enough, locals believed the well was also magical – having seen with their own eyes objects mysteriously turn to stone.

There was actually a simple explanation (the water’s mineral content), but the aura has continued through the centuries and celebrities far and wide still visit.

John Wayne even once donated his iconic cowboy hat – and yes, it did turn to stone.

For people considering visiting the beautiful North Yorkshire town over the coming months, be sure to catch the world famous Great Knaresborough Bed Race on June 10.

Held every year since 1966, the event does exactly what it says on the tin – passengers onboard decorated beds are run around a gruelling 2.4 mile course by their team while thousands crowd the streets to watch.

And if the world of creative arts is more your bag, the annual FEVA festival takes place from August 11 – August 20, with live music, theatre productions, art exhibitions and more popping up across the town.


Contact us: Swaines Industrial Estate, Ashingdon Rd, Rochford SS4 1RG – 0330 229 2121 –