Clifford's Tower, the keep of York Castle
|Grid reference||grid reference|
|Type||Shell keep and bailey|
|Owner||English Heritage, York Museums Trust, Her Majesty's Courts Service|
|Condition||Ruined keep, restored part curtain-wall, surviving 18th century buildings used as a museum and York's Crown Court|
|Battles/wars||Siege of York in 1644|
|Events||Jewish massacre of 1190|
|Designated||14 June 1954|
|Reference no.||1259325 |
York Castle is a fortified complex in the city of York, England. It has comprised a sequence of castles, prisons, law courts and other buildings, which were built over the last nine centuries on the south side of the River Foss. The now-ruined keep of the medieval Norman castle is commonly referred to as Clifford's Tower. Built originally on the orders of William I to dominate the former Viking city of Jórvík, the castle suffered a tumultuous early history before developing into a major fortification with extensive water defences. After a major explosion in 1684 rendered the remaining military defences uninhabitable, York Castle continued to be used as a jail and prison until 1929.
York is a city and unitary authority area in North Yorkshire, England, the population of the council area which includes nearby villages was 208,200 as of 2017 and the population of the Urban area was 153,717 at the 2011 census. Located at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss, it is the county town of the historic county of Yorkshire. The city is known for its famous historical landmarks such as York Minster and the city walls, as well as a variety of cultural and sporting activities, which makes it a popular tourist destination in England. The local authority is the City of York Council, a single tier governing body responsible for providing all local services and facilities throughout the city. The City of York local government district includes rural areas beyond the old city boundaries. It is about 25 miles north-east of Leeds.
A court is any person or institution with authority to judge or adjudicate, often as a government institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accordance with the rule of law. In both common law and civil law legal systems, courts are the central means for dispute resolution, and it is generally understood that all people have an ability to bring their claims before a court. Similarly, the rights of those accused of a crime include the right to present a defense before a court.
The River Foss is an improved river in North Yorkshire, England, and a tributary of the River Ouse. It rises in the Foss Crooks woods near Oulston reservoir close to the village of Yearsley and runs south through the Vale of York to the Ouse. The name most likely comes from the Latin word Fossa, meaning ditch and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. The York district was settled by Norwegian and Danish people, so parts of the place names could be old Norse. Referring to the etymological dictionary "Etymologisk ordbog", ISBN 82-905-2016-6 dealing with the common Danish and Norwegian languages – roots of words and the original meaning. The old Norse word Fos (waterfall) meaning impetuous. The River Foss was dammed, and even though the elevation to the river Ouse is small, a waterfall was formed. This may have led to the name Fos, and later changed to Foss.
The first motte and bailey castle on the site was built in 1068 following the Norman conquest of York. After the destruction of the castle by rebels and a Viking army in 1069, York Castle was rebuilt and reinforced with extensive water defences, including a moat and an artificial lake. York Castle formed an important royal fortification in the north of England.
A moat is a deep, broad ditch, either dry or filled with water, that is dug and surrounds a castle, fortification, building or town, historically to provide it with a preliminary line of defence. In some places moats evolved into more extensive water defences, including natural or artificial lakes, dams and sluices. In older fortifications, such as hillforts, they are usually referred to simply as ditches, although the function is similar. In later periods, moats or water defences may be largely ornamental. They could also act as a sewer.
In 1190, 150 local Jews were killed in a pogrom in the castle keep; most of them committed suicide in order not to fall into the hands of the mob. Henry III rebuilt the castle in stone in the middle of the 13th century, creating a keep with a unique quatrefoil design, supported by an outer bailey wall and a substantial gatehouse. During the Scottish wars between 1298 and 1338, York Castle was frequently used as the centre of royal administration across England, as well as an important military base of operations.
A pogrom is a violent riot aimed at the massacre or persecution of an ethnic or religious group, particularly one aimed at Jews. The Russian term originally entered the English language in order to describe 19th and 20th century attacks on Jews in the Russian Empire. Similar attacks against Jews at other times and places also became retrospectively known as pogroms. The word is now also sometimes used to describe publicly sanctioned purgative attacks against non-Jewish ethnic or religious groups. The characteristics of a pogrom vary widely, depending on the specific incidents, at times leading to, or culminating in, massacres.
Henry III, also known as Henry of Winchester, was King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Aquitaine from 1216 until his death. The son of King John and Isabella of Angoulême, Henry assumed the throne when he was only nine in the middle of the First Barons' War. Cardinal Guala declared the war against the rebel barons to be a religious crusade and Henry's forces, led by William Marshal, defeated the rebels at the battles of Lincoln and Sandwich in 1217. Henry promised to abide by the Great Charter of 1225, which limited royal power and protected the rights of the major barons. His early rule was dominated first by Hubert de Burgh and then Peter des Roches, who re-established royal authority after the war. In 1230, the King attempted to reconquer the provinces of France that had once belonged to his father, but the invasion was a debacle. A revolt led by William Marshal's son, Richard, broke out in 1232, ending in a peace settlement negotiated by the Church.
A keep is a type of fortified tower built within castles during the Middle Ages by European nobility. Scholars have debated the scope of the word keep, but usually consider it to refer to large towers in castles that were fortified residences, used as a refuge of last resort should the rest of the castle fall to an adversary. The first keeps were made of timber and formed a key part of the Motte-and-Bailey castles that emerged in Normandy and Anjou during the 10th century; the design spread to England as a result of the Norman invasion of 1066, and in turn spread into Wales during the second half of the 11th century and into Ireland in the 1170s. The Anglo-Normans and French rulers began to build stone keeps during the 10th and 11th centuries; these included Norman keeps, with a square or rectangular design, and circular shell keeps. Stone keeps carried considerable political as well as military importance and could take up to a decade or more to build.
York Castle fell into disrepair by the 15th and 16th centuries, becoming used increasingly as a jail for both local felons and political prisoners. By the time of Elizabeth I the castle was estimated to have lost all of its military value but was maintained as a centre of royal authority in York. The outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642 saw York Castle being repaired and refortified, playing a part in the Royalist defence of York in 1644 against Parliamentary forces. York Castle continued to be garrisoned until 1684, when an explosion destroyed the interior of Clifford's Tower. The castle bailey was redeveloped in a neoclassical style in the 18th century as a centre for county administration in Yorkshire, and was used as a jail and debtors' prison. Prison reform in the 19th century led to the creation of a new prison built in a Tudor Gothic style on the castle site in 1825; used first as a county and then as a military prison, this facility was demolished in 1935. By the 20th century the ruin of Clifford's Tower had become a well-known tourist destination and national monument; today the site is owned by English Heritage and open to the public. The other remaining buildings serve as the York Castle Museum and the Crown Court.
Elizabeth I was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death on 24 March 1603. Sometimes called the Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor.
The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars and political machinations between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists ("Cavaliers") principally over the manner of England's governance. The first (1642–1646) and second (1648–1649) wars pitted the supporters of King Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third (1649–1651) saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II and supporters of the Rump Parliament. The war ended with Parliamentarian victory at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651.
Cavalier was first used by Roundheads as a term of abuse for the wealthier Royalist supporters of King Charles I and his son Charles II of England during the English Civil War, the Interregnum, and the Restoration. It was later adopted by the Royalists themselves. Although it referred originally to political and social attitudes and behaviour, of which clothing was a very small part, it has subsequently become strongly identified with the fashionable clothing of the court at the time. Prince Rupert, commander of much of Charles I's cavalry, is often considered to be an archetypal Cavalier.
York was a Viking capital in the 10th century, and continued as an important northern city in the 11th century.In 1068, on William the Conqueror's first northern expedition after the Norman Conquest, he built a number of castles across the north-east of England, including one at York. This first castle at York was a basic wooden motte and bailey castle built between the rivers Ouse and Foss on the site of the present-day York Castle. It was built in haste; contemporary accounts imply it was constructed in only eight days, although this assertion has been challenged. The motte was originally around 200 feet (61 metres) wide at the base. As it was built in an urban environment, hundreds of houses had to be destroyed to make way for the development. William Malet, the sheriff of Yorkshire, was placed in charge of the castle and successfully defended it against an immediate uprising by the local population.
Scandinavian York or Danish/Norwegian York is a term used by historians for the south of Northumbria during the period of the late 9th century and first half of the 10th century, when it was dominated by Norse warrior-kings; in particular, it is used to refer to York, the city controlled by these kings.
The River Ouse is a river in North Yorkshire, England. Hydrologically, the river is a continuation of the River Ure, and the combined length of the River Ure and River Ouse makes it, at 129 miles (208 km), the sixth longest river of the United Kingdom and the longest to flow entirely in one county. The length of the Ouse alone is about 52 miles (84 km).
The Sheriff is the oldest secular office under the Crown. Formerly the Sheriff was the principal law enforcement officer in the county but over the centuries most of the responsibilities associated with the post have been transferred elsewhere or are now defunct, so that its functions are now largely ceremonial.
In response to the worsening security situation, William conducted his second northern campaign in 1069. He built another castle in York, on what is now Baile Hill on the west bank of the Ouse opposite the first castle, in an effort to improve his control over the city.This second castle was also a motte and bailey design, with the Baile Hill motte probably reached by a horizontal bridge and steps cut up the side of the motte. Later that year, a Danish Viking fleet sailed up to York along the Humber and the Ouse, and attacked both castles with the assistance of Cospatrick of Northumbria and a number of local rebels. The Normans, attempting to drive the rebels back, set fire to some of the city's houses. The fire grew out of control and also set fire to York Minster and, some argue, the castles as well. The castles were captured and partially dismantled, and Malet was taken hostage by the Danes.
The Humber is a large tidal estuary on the east coast of Northern England. It is formed at Trent Falls, Faxfleet, by the confluence of the tidal rivers Ouse and Trent. From there to the North Sea, it forms part of the boundary between the East Riding of Yorkshire on the north bank and North Lincolnshire on the south bank. Although the Humber is an estuary from the point at which it is formed, many maps show it as the River Humber.
The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York, commonly known as York Minster, is the cathedral of York, England, and is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe. The minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the third-highest office of the Church of England, and is the mother church for the Diocese of York and the Province of York. It is run by a dean and chapter, under the Dean of York. The title "minster" is attributed to churches established in the Anglo-Saxon period as missionary teaching churches, and serves now as an honorific title. Services in the minster are sometimes regarded as on the High Church or Anglo-Catholic end of the Anglican continuum.
William conducted a widespread sequence of punitive operations across the north of England in the aftermath of the attacks in 1069 and 1070.This "Harrying of the North" restored sufficient order to allow the rebuilding of the two castles, again in wood. The bailey at York Castle was enlarged slightly in the process; buildings believed to have been inside the bailey at this time include "halls, kitchens, a chapel, barracks, stores, stables, forges [and] workshops". By the time Domesday Book was written in 1086, York Castle was also surrounded by a water-filled moat and a large artificial lake called the King's Pool, fed from the river Foss by a dam built for the purpose. More property, including two watermills, had to be destroyed to make way for the water defences. Over time the Baile Hill site was abandoned in favour of the first castle site, leaving only the motte, which still exists.
Henry II visited York Castle four times during his reign.The royal chambers at the time were inside the keep for safety, and Henry paid £15 for repairs to the keep. During his 1175 visit, Henry used the castle as the base for receiving the homage of William the Lion of Scotland. Castle mills were built close by to support the garrison, and the military order of the Knights Templar was granted ownership of the mills in the mid-12th century. The mills proved to be vulnerable to the flooding of the two rivers and had to be repeatedly repaired.
In 1190, York Castle was the location of one of the worst pogroms in England during the medieval period.The Normans had introduced the first Jewish communities into England, where some occupied a special economic role as moneylenders, an essential but otherwise banned activity. English Jews were subject to considerable religious prejudice and primarily worked from towns and cities in which there was a local royal castle that could provide them with protection in the event of attacks from the majority Christian population. Royal protection was usually granted as the Norman and Angevin kings had determined that Jewish property and debts owed to Jews ultimately belonged to the crown, reverting to the king on a Jew's death.
Richard I was crowned king in 1189 and announced his intention to join the Crusades; this inflamed anti-Jewish sentiment.Rumours began to spread that the king had ordered that the English Jews be attacked. In York, tensions broke out into violence the following year. Richard de Malbis, who owed money to the powerful Jewish merchant Aaron of Lincoln, exploited an accidental house fire to incite a local mob to attack the home and family of a recently deceased Jewish employee of Aaron in York. Josce of York, the leader of the Jewish community, led the local Jewish families into the royal castle, where they took refuge in the wooden keep. The mob surrounded the castle, and when the constable left the castle to discuss the situation, the Jews, fearing the entry of the mob or being handed over to the sheriff, refused to allow him back in. The constable appealed to the sheriff, who called out his own men and laid siege to the keep. The siege continued until 16 March when the Jews' position became untenable. Their religious leader, Rabbi Yomtob, proposed an act of collective suicide to avoid being killed by the mob, and the castle was set on fire to prevent their bodies being mutilated after their deaths. Several Jews perished in the flames but the majority took their own lives rather than give themselves up to the mob. A few Jews did surrender, promising to convert to Christianity, but they were killed by the angry crowd. Around 150 Jews died in total in the massacre. The keep was rebuilt, again in wood, on the motte, which was raised in height by 13 feet (4 metres) at a cost of £207.
King John used York Castle extensively during his reign, using the keep as his personal quarters for his own security.The castle was kept in good repair during that time. During this period, the first records of the use of the castle as a jail appeared, with references to prisoners taken during John's Irish campaigns being held at York Castle. By the 13th century there was a well-established system of castle-guards in place, under which various lands around York were granted in return for the provision of knights and crossbowmen to assist in protecting the castle.
Henry III also made extensive use of the castle, but during his visit at Christmas 1228 a gale destroyed the wooden keep on the motte.The keep was apparently not repaired, and a building for the king's use was built in the bailey instead. In 1244, when the Scots threatened to invade England, King Henry III visited the castle and ordered it to be rebuilt in white limestone, at a cost of about £2,600. The work was carried out between 1245 and 1270, and included the construction of a towered curtain wall, a gatehouse of considerable size with two large towers, two smaller gatehouses, a small watergate, a small gateway into the city, a chapel, and a new stone keep, first known as the King's, later Clifford's, Tower.
Clifford's Tower is of an unusual design. The two-storey tower has a quatrefoil plan with four circular lobes. Each lobe measures 22 feet (6.5 metres) across, with walls 9 feet 6 inches (3 metres) thick; at its widest, the tower is 79 feet (24 metres) across. A square gatehouse, 21 feet (6.5 metres) wide, protected the entrance on the south side between two of the lobes. There are defensive turrets between the other lobes. Large corbels and a central pier supported the huge weight of stone and the first floor. Loopholes of a design unique to York Castle provided firing points. A chapel was built over the entrance, measuring 15 feet by 14 feet (4.5 metres by 4.2 metres), doubling as a portcullis chamber as at Harlech and Chepstow Castles. The tower is believed to be an experiment in improving flanking fire by making more ground visible from the summit of the keep. Although unique to England, the design of the tower closely resembles that at Étampes in France, and may have influenced the design of the future keep of Pontefract Castle. Henry employed master mason Henry de Rayns and chief carpenter Simon of Northampton for the project, and the cost of the tower accounted for the majority of the overall expenditure on the castle during this period of work.
The new castle needed constant investment to maintain its quality as a military fortification.Winter floods in 1315–16 damaged the soil at the base of the motte, requiring immediate repairs. Around 1358–60, the heavy stone keep again suffered from subsidence and the south-eastern lobe cracked from top to bottom. Royal officials recommended that the keep be completely rebuilt, but, instead, the lobe was repaired at a cost of £200.
Edward I gave wide-reaching powers to the sheriff of Yorkshire for enforcing law and order in the city of York, and the sheriffs established their headquarters in Clifford's Tower.During the wars against the Scots under both Edward and his son, York Castle also formed the centre of royal administration in England for almost half the years between 1298 and 1338. Many Westminster institutions followed the king north to York, basing themselves in the castle compound. The existing castle buildings were insufficient to house all the administrative institutions; a temporary building inside the castle was built for the Court of Common Pleas at the beginning of the period, and rebuilt on a larger scale during 1319–20. The Exchequer took over Clifford's Tower. Other buildings around the city had to be commandeered to absorb the overflow from the castle itself. As a result of the extended use of the castle for these purposes, the law courts at York Castle began to compete with those in London, a pattern that lasted into the 1360s. The castle eventually acquired its own mint in 1344, when Edward III decided to create a permanent mint in York Castle to produce gold and silver coins to serve the needs of the north of England. European coiners were brought to York to establish the facility.
Henry III extended the castle's role as a jail for holding a wide range of prisoners.The sheriff was responsible for the jail at this time, and his deputy usually took the role of a full-time jailer. Up to three hundred and ten prisoners were held in the castle at any one time. The conditions in which prisoners were held were "appalling", and led to the widespread loss of life amongst detainees. Prison escapes were relatively common, and many of them, such as the break-out by 28 prisoners in 1298, were successful. When the Military Order of the Knights Templar was dissolved in England in 1307, York Castle was used to hold many of the arrested knights. The castle mills, as former Templar property, returned to royal control at the same time. Edward II also used the castle as a jail in his campaign against his rebellious barons in 1322, and after the battle of Boroughbridge many of the defeated rebel leaders were executed at York Castle.
By the end of the 14th century, the castle bailey was primarily occupied by the local county administration. It was used extensively as a jail, with prisoners being kept in the various towers around the bailey.The old castle-guard system for securing the castle had changed into a system whereby the crown used rents from local royal lands to hire local guards for the castle. Increasingly, royalty preferred to stay at the Franciscan friary, between the Castle and King's Staith on the Ouse, while their staff resided at St Mary's Abbey and St Andrew's Priory in the Fishergate area.
In the 15th century, York Castle, along with Nottingham Castle, was considered a key security asset in the north of England, but investment even in these castles diminished.Repairs to York Castle grew infrequent from 1400 onwards, and it fell into increasing disrepair. Richard III recognised the issue and in 1483 had some of the most decrepit structures removed, but he died at the battle of Bosworth before replacement work could commence. By the reign of Henry VIII, the antiquary John Leland reported that the castle was in considerable disrepair; nonetheless the water defences remained intact, unlike those of many other castles of the period. As a result of the deterioration, Henry had to be advised that the king's councillors no longer had any official residence in which to stay and work when they were in York. The castle mint was shut down after the death of Edward VI in 1553, and the castle mills were given to a local charitable hospital in 1464. The hospital was then closed during the Reformation, and the mills passed into private ownership once again.
The castle continued to be used as a jail, increasingly for local felons, and a location for political executions.By the 16th century it had become traditional to execute traitors by hanging them from the top of Clifford's Tower, rather than killing them at Micklegate Bar, the usual previous location for capital punishment in York. In 1536, for example, the political leader Robert Aske was executed at York Castle on the orders of Henry VIII, following the failure of Aske's Pilgrimage of Grace protest against the Dissolution of the Monasteries. For most of the period the sheriffs of Yorkshire remained in control of the castle, although there were some notable exceptions such as the appointment of the royal favourite Sir Robert Ryther by Edward IV in 1478. At the end of the 16th century, however, the Clifford family (Earls of Cumberland), became the hereditary constables of the castle, and Clifford's Tower took its name from the family at around this time.
The deterioration of the castle continued into the reign of Elizabeth I, who was advised that it no longer had any military utility.Robert Redhead, the tower keeper, became infamous at the time for taking parts of the castle to pieces and selling off the stonework for his own profit. Despite numerous attempts by local city and crown officials to halt this, Redhead continued to cause considerable damage before being forced to stop. Proposals were made to pull down Clifford's Tower altogether in 1596, but were turned down because of the strength of local feeling.
Maintaining the castle was becoming increasingly expensive, and in 1614 King James sold the lease on Clifford's Tower and the surrounding land to John Babington and Edmund Duffield, a pair of property speculators.In turn, Babington and Duffield sold Clifford's Tower to a York merchant family. In 1642, however, the English Civil War broke out between the rival factions of the Royalists and Parliament. Forces loyal to Charles I, under the command of Henry Clifford, garrisoned York Castle and the surrounding city in 1643. York effectively became the "northern capital" for the Royalist cause. Clifford repaired the castle and strengthened the walls to permit them to support cannon, placing his arms alongside those of the king above the entrance. Clifford's Tower's gatehouse was substantially remodelled, losing its original medieval appearance. Baile Hill, on the other side of the river, became a gun emplacement. The castle mint was reopened to supply the king's forces with coins.
The war turned against the Royalist factions, and on 23 April 1644 Parliamentary forces commenced the siege of York. A Scottish army under Alexander Leslie came from the south, while a Parliamentary force under Ferdinando Fairfax came from the east.Six weeks later, Edward Montagu brought a third contingent to York, bringing the number of forces besieging the city to over 30,000 men. William Cavendish commanded the city during the siege, while Colonel Sir Francis Cobb was appointed the governor of the castle. Despite bombardment, attempts to undermine the walls and attacks on the gates, the city held out through May and June. Prince Rupert, sent to relieve York, approached with reinforcements, and through clever manoeuvring was able to force the besiegers to withdraw, lifting the siege on 1 July. The next day, Parliamentary forces defeated Rupert at the Battle of Marston Moor, six miles west of York, making the surrender of York and the castle inevitable. On 14 July the city and castle surrendered to the Parliamentary forces, who permitted the Royalists to march out with full honours.
Parliament then appointed Thomas Dickenson, the local mayor, as the governor of Clifford's Tower.Control of the castle rested with the post of mayor until the Restoration. Efforts were made to separate the structures of Clifford's Tower, which Parliament used as a garrison, from the buildings of the bailey, which continued to be used as a prison. Oliver Cromwell visited Clifford's Tower in 1650, and received a salute from the guns stationed on top of it. The cost of the garrison was levied on the city of York.
After the Restoration of Charles II, the pre-war owners of the property laid claim to Clifford's Tower, eventually being granted ownership.A garrison continued to be stationed there, however, which prevented the owners from actually occupying or using the property. Repairs were made to the tower, and it became a magazine for storing gunpowder and shot. Attempts were made to restore the condition of the moat, which had become badly silted. Some political prisoners continued to be held at the castle during the Restoration period, including George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends.
The county facilities in the bailey were expanded during these years, with improvements to the Grand Jury House and the Common Hall, but by the 1680s the role of the military garrison at York Castle was being called into question.Sir Christopher Musgrave produced a report for the Crown in 1682; he argued that it would cost at least £30,000 to turn the castle into a modern fortification, producing a proposal for the six bastions that such a star fort would require. This work was never carried out. Meanwhile, the garrison and the castle had become extremely unpopular with the people of York, who disliked both the cost and the imposition of external authority.
On St George's Day in 1684 at around 10 pm, an explosion in the magazine destroyed the interior of Clifford's Tower entirely. The official explanation was that the celebratory salute from the guns on the roof had set fire to parts of the woodwork, which later ignited the magazine. Most historians, however, believe the explosion was not accidental. At the time, it was common in the city to toast the potential demolition of the "Minced Pie", as the castle was known to locals; suspiciously, some members of the garrison had moved their personal belongings to safety just before the explosion, and no-one from the garrison was injured by the event. The heat of the fire turned the limestone of the tower to its current, slightly pink, colour. The now-ruined tower was returned fully to private ownership, eventually forming part of the lands of the neighbouring house and gardens belonging to Samuel Waud.
By 1701, the conditions of the county jail had become scandalous and the decision was taken to redevelop the area occupied by the old bailey.A local tax helped to fund the development, and the king agreed for the ruins of St Mary's Abbey to be cannibalised for building stone. Three new buildings were erected to the south of Clifford's Tower. A new county jail, built between 1701 and 1705 by William Wakefield, was placed on the south side, closely resembling the fashionable work of John Vanbrugh. The local architect John Carr then built the Assize Courts on the site of the old Jury House between 1773 and 1777 on the west side, and oversaw the replacement of the Sessions House and Common Hall by the Female Prison between 1780 and 1783 on the east side. The Female Prison and county jail were later combined to become the Debtors' Prison. Both of Carr's buildings were designed in a distinctive neoclassical style; the Assize Court building was particularly praised at the time as being "a superb building of the Ionic order". The castle courtyard was grassed over to form a circle in 1777 and became known as the "Eye of the Ridings" because it was used for the election of members of parliament for York.
Visits by the prison reformer John Howard as part of the research for his book The State of the Prisons found these prisons flawed, but in relatively good condition compared to others at the time.The Debtors' Prison as a whole was an "honour to the county" of York, with "airy and healthy" rooms, but the felons' wing of the prison attracted some criticism. The felons' wing was "too small" and had "no water" for the inmates; felons were forced to sleep on piles of straw on the floor. Indeed, conditions were so bad in the felons' wing that nine prisoners suffocated in one night during 1739.
Just outside the main walls, the castle mills had become increasingly ineffective from the 16th century onwards because of a reduction in the flow of the rivers driving the water-wheels.As a result, in 1778 they were rebuilt with a new steam engine to drive the machinery; this steam engine caused considerable discomfort to the prisoners affected by the smoke and noise.
Criticism of the castle prison increased at the end of the 18th century.The facilities were felt to be inadequate and the crowds of spectators who gathered outside the prison to see inmates being taken into York for execution unseemly. Attempts were made to improve the way executions were carried out from 1803 onwards: the former castle courtyard, the Eye of the Ridings, was used for this purpose instead, although crowds still gathered outside the bailey to watch the slow deaths of the prisoners. By 1813 the execution process had been sped up by the introduction of the "short drop" method of hanging, allowing the unusually rapid execution of fourteen Luddite agitators at the castle in 1814. Overcrowding in the jail was now also a problem, with up to 114 prisoners being held at any one time; occasionally, around forty prisoners awaiting trial had to be kept in the jail yard for lack of space elsewhere.
The suitability of the prison was finally brought to a head at the 1821 assizes in York, when an official complaint was made and an investigation begun.The decision was taken to purchase Clifford's Tower and the Waud house, with the aim of demolishing them both to make room for a new, more modern prison. Sydney Smith, the famous wit, writer and vicar of Foston-le-Clay, successfully led a campaign to save Clifford's Tower, emphasising the historic importance of the location for the surrounding city. An alternative proposal, put forward by architect Robert Wallace, would have seen the conversion of Clifford's Tower back into a habitable building to form the hub of a radial prison design, but this was turned down.
In 1825, Clifford's Tower and the Waud house were purchased by the county of Yorkshire at the cost of £8,800 (£665,000 at 2009 prices).The new prison buildings, designed by architects P. F. Robinson and G. T. Andrews, were constructed in a Tudor Gothic style, including a gatehouse 35 feet (11 metres) high and a radial prison block, protected by a long, high stone wall. The prison, considered to be the strongest such building in England, was built entirely of stone to be both secure and fireproof. Dark grey gritstone was used in the construction to produce a forbidding appearance, although the prison itself was considered healthy and well ventilated. Clifford's Tower played no part in the formal design of the prison, although the talus, or sloping edge of the motte, was cut away and replaced by a retaining wall to allow more space for the new prison building. The backyard of the Female Prison, concealed from public view by the new wall, was used for hangings from 1868 onwards. The Prison Act, 1877, reformed the English prison system, and York Castle gaol was passed into the control of central government the following year. It was used as the county prison until 1900, when the remaining prisoners were transferred to Wakefield Prison, and from then onwards the facility was used as a military prison instead.
By the early 19th century, dredging and other improvements to the river Foss had made it possible to import flour into York by river, reducing the economic significance of the castle mills.In 1856, the castle mills were finally demolished as part of a further sequence of improvements to this part of the river. The King's Pool that formed part of the castle's water defences was drained. With the construction of several new bridges near the castle, the site became "surrounded by roads instead of moats". Some major trials took place at the Assizes (now Crown Court) building of York Castle in the 19th century, including that of Mary Fitzpatrick who was accused of murder.
In 1890 the Prison Commissioners agreed to declare Clifford's Tower a national monument and to conserve it as a historic location.In 1902 Clifford's Tower was given to the York Corporation, together with a grant of £3,000 (£242,000 at 2009 prices) arranged by Lord Wenlock for conservation and repairs. The removal of the talus and the damage to the castle stonework in the 16th century had put excessive pressure on the supporting motte, causing a recurrence of the 14th century subsidence. Sir Basil Mott, a leading Victorian engineer, installed concrete underpinnings to stabilise the structure beneath the gatehouse. By the early 20th century, Clifford's Tower was regularly open to visitors, and in 1915 it was passed to the Office of Works as a national monument.
York Prison finally closed in 1929, and the Tudor Gothic Victorian prison buildings were demolished in 1935.The Assize Courts building now houses the York Crown Court, while the former Debtors' Prison and Female Prison, together with a modern entrance area, are now the Castle Museum. The circular grassed area between these buildings that was once known as the "Eye of the Ridings" is now known as Castle Green, or the "Eye of York". Clifford's Tower is the most prominent surviving part of the original medieval fortification, although the stone steps up the side of the motte are modern. Fragments of the bailey wall, parts of the south gatehouse and one of the corner towers also survive.
The castle is classed as a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled monument.The site, managed by English Heritage, is open to the public. Until the 1970s, the pogrom of 1190 was often underplayed by official histories of the castle; early official guides to the castle made no reference to it. In 1978, however, the first memorial tablet to the victims was laid at the base of Clifford's Tower, and in 1990 the 800th anniversary of the killings was commemorated at the tower. Recently, commercial interests have sought to introduce retail development to the area surrounding it. Citizens, visitors, academics, environmentalists, local businesspeople and Jewish groups have opposed the development with some success, winning a lengthy and bitter public inquiry in 2003.
Castles have played an important military, economic and social role in Great Britain and Ireland since their introduction following the Norman invasion of England in 1066. Although a small number of castles had been built in England in the 1050s, the Normans began to build motte and bailey and ring-work castles in large numbers to control their newly occupied territories in England and the Welsh Marches. During the 12th century the Normans began to build more castles in stone – with characteristic square keep – that played both military and political roles. Royal castles were used to control key towns and the economically important forests, while baronial castles were used by the Norman lords to control their widespread estates. David I invited Anglo-Norman lords into Scotland in the early 12th century to help him colonise and control areas of his kingdom such as Galloway; the new lords brought castle technologies with them and wooden castles began to be established over the south of the kingdom. Following the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 1170s, under Henry II, castles were established there too.
A motte-and-bailey castle is a fortification with a wooden or stone keep situated on a raised earthwork called a motte, accompanied by an enclosed courtyard, or bailey, surrounded by a protective ditch and palisade. Relatively easy to build with unskilled labour, but still militarily formidable, these castles were built across northern Europe from the 10th century onwards, spreading from Normandy and Anjou in France, into the Holy Roman Empire in the 11th century. The Normans introduced the design into England and Wales following their invasion in 1066. Motte-and-bailey castles were adopted in Scotland, Ireland, the Low Countries and Denmark in the 12th and 13th centuries. By the end of the 13th century, the design was largely superseded by alternative forms of fortification, but the earthworks remain a prominent feature in many countries.
The Castle, Newcastle, is a medieval fortification in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, built on the site of the fortress that gave the City of Newcastle its name. The most prominent remaining structures on the site are the Castle Keep, the castle's main fortified stone tower, and the Black Gate, its fortified gatehouse.
Oxford Castle is a large, partly ruined Norman medieval castle on the western side of central Oxford in Oxfordshire, England. Most of the original moated, wooden motte and bailey castle was replaced in stone in the late 12th or early 13th century and the castle played an important role in the conflict of the Anarchy. In the 14th century the military value of the castle diminished and the site became used primarily for county administration and as a prison. The surviving rectangular St George's Tower is now believed to pre-date the remainder of the castle and be a watch tower associated with the original Saxon west gate of the city.
Sandal Castle is a ruined medieval castle in Sandal Magna, a suburb of the city of Wakefield in West Yorkshire, England, overlooking the River Calder. It was the site of royal intrigue and the setting for a scene in one of William Shakespeare's plays.
Cambridge Castle, locally also known as Castle Mound, is located in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England. Originally built after the Norman conquest to control the strategically important route to the north of England, it played a role in the conflicts of the Anarchy, the First and Second Barons' Wars. Hugely expanded by Edward I, the castle then fell rapidly into disuse in the late medieval era, its stonework recycled for building purposes in the surrounding colleges. Cambridge Castle was refortified during the English Civil War but once again fell into disuse, used primarily as the county gaol. The castle gaol was finally demolished in 1842, with a new prison built in the castle bailey. This prison was demolished in 1932, replaced with the modern Shire Hall, and only the castle motte and limited earthworks still stand. The site is open to the public daily and offers views over the historic buildings of the city.
Guildford Castle is in Guildford, Surrey, England. It is thought to have been built shortly after the 1066 invasion of England by William the Conqueror.
Brough Castle is a ruined castle in the village of Brough, Cumbria, England. The castle was built by William Rufus around 1092 within the old Roman fort of Verterae to protect a key route through the Pennine Mountains. The initial motte and bailey castle was attacked and destroyed by the Scots in 1174 during the Great Revolt against Henry II. Rebuilt after the war, a square keep was constructed and the rest of the castle converted to stone.
Lydford Castle is a medieval castle in the town of Lydford, Devon, England. The first castle in Lydford, sometimes termed the Norman fort, was a small ringwork built in a corner of the Anglo-Saxon fortified burh in the years after the Norman conquest of England. It was intended to help control Devon following the widespread revolt against Norman rule in 1068. The Norman fort had been abandoned by the middle of the 12th century.
Launceston Castle is located in the town of Launceston, Cornwall, England. It was probably built by Robert the Count of Mortain after 1068, and initially comprised an earthwork and timber castle with a large motte in one corner. Launceston Castle formed the administrative centre of the new earldom of Cornwall, with a large community packed within the walls of its bailey. It was rebuilt in stone in the 12th century and then substantially redeveloped by Richard of Cornwall after 1227, including a high tower to enable visitors to view his surrounding lands. When Richard's son, Edmund, inherited the castle, he moved the earldom's administration to Lostwithiel, triggering the castle's decline. By 1337, the castle was increasingly ruinous and used primarily as a gaol and to host judicial assizes.
Brougham Castle is a medieval building about 2 miles (3.2 km) south-east of Penrith, Cumbria, England. The castle was founded by Robert I de Vieuxpont in the early 13th century. The site, near the confluence of the rivers, Eamont and Lowther, had been chosen by the Romans for a Roman fort called Brocavum. The castle is scheduled as an Ancient Monument, along with the fort, as "Brougham Roman fort and Brougham Castle".
St Briavels Castle is a moated Norman castle at St Briavels in the English county of Gloucestershire. The castle is noted for its huge Edwardian gatehouse that guards the entrance.
Halton Castle is a castle in the village of Halton which is part of the town of Runcorn, Cheshire, England. The castle is situated on the top of Halton Hill, a sandstone prominence overlooking the village. A motte and bailey castle was built with construction starting in 1071, the original building was replaced with the current sandstone castle in the 13th Century. Building alterations continued until at least 1609 when the structure is recorded as in disrepair. The castle is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building, and a scheduled ancient monument.
Benington Castle is a ruined castle in the village of Benington, near Stevenage in Hertfordshire, England at grid reference. It has been protected since 1936 as a scheduled ancient monument.
Gloucester Castle was a castle in the city of Gloucester in the county of Gloucestershire. The castle was demolished and Gloucester Prison built on the site.
Tonbridge Castle is situated in Tonbridge, Kent, England.
Thetford Castle is a medieval motte and bailey castle in the market town of Thetford in the Breckland area of Norfolk, England. The first castle in Thetford, a probable 11th century Norman ringwork called Red Castle, was replaced in the 12th century by a much larger motte and bailey castle on the other side of the town. This new castle was largely destroyed in 1173 by Henry II, although the huge motte, the second largest man-made mound in England, remained intact. The motte, recognised as a scheduled monument, now forms part of a local park, and the remains are known variously as Castle Hill, Castle Mound and Military Parade.
Farnham Castle is a 12th century castle in Farnham, Surrey, England, formerly the residence of the Bishops of Winchester..
Worcester Castle was a Norman fortification built between 1068 and 1069 in Worcester, England by Urse d'Abetot on behalf of William the Conqueror. The castle had a motte-and-bailey design and was located on the south side of the old Anglo-Saxon city, cutting into the grounds of Worcester Cathedral. Royal castles were owned by the king and maintained on his behalf by an appointed constable. At Worcester that role was passed down through the local Beauchamp family on a hereditary basis, giving them permanent control of the castle and considerable power within the city. The castle played an important part in the wars of the 12th and early 13th century, including the Anarchy and the First Barons' War.
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