Skipton Castle

Type:Castle / Fort

The Bailey, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 1AW

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Skipton Castle

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DESORMAIS - Henceforth - the proud motto of the Clifford family, 1310-1676 is carved in stone high above the massive four round towers of the Gatehouse. This imposing structure stands proudly at the entrance to a remarkable building - steeped in history. Inside the gate-house is the Shell Grotto made from Ormer shells and Jamaican coral, designed by a French man Isaac de Caus in the early C17th for Henry Clifford in memory of his brother George Clifford. Set out in shells are depicted the four elements, earth, wind, fire and water, probably the only navigational aids they had when sailing the high seas.

For over 900 years the castle has stood guardian of the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, 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.

By the late C13th/early C14th, it became a major northern stronghold; a formidable fortress with the powerful Clifford family, being brought from the Welsh borders to keep the Scots at bay. George Clifford, 13th Lord of Skipton and 3rd Earl of Cumberland, and Champion to Queen Elizabeth I was perhaps the best known of the Clifford family and his splendid tomb can be seen in the Parish Church, close to the Castle walls,.

In the Civil War the castle sustained a three-year siege becoming the last outpost in the north to surrender to the Roundhead forces. On a cold December day in 1645, a column of soldiers, weary and tattered but with colours flying and trumpets sounding, marched out of the Castle gate and away down the wide High Street - surrendering (with honour).

Cromwell ordered that the castle should be destroyed but the redoubtable Lady Anne Clifford, daughter of George, promised to make it impossible for cannon to be fired from it thus it was only "slighted" saving the castle from almost certain destruction which has helped future generations to preserve it as one of Yorkshire's finest medieval castles.

Explore now and imagine life in medieval times - how did the mason’s of those long ago days build the castle, how did they lift those huge stones and why did they carve their initials in the stones? Note the Tudor Wing built as a royal wedding present for Lady Eleanor Brandon, niece of Henry VIII in a matter of six months!

Enjoy a gentle stroll around the Chapel Terrace, visiting the ‘lost’ 13th century chapel – fully revealed only in recent years having been used as stabling for centuries. From here view Skipton's bustling High Street and Market with, behind the castle, over 40 acres of woodland to explore and enjoy.

Browse in the shop to find that unusual gift and see our noted book section. Visit the Clifford Tearooms and enjoy a cup of tea and homemade cake!

Visit for details of our re-enactments and exciting activities for children.

Town, countryside, Castle – how much there is to enjoy at Skipton.

Illustrated tour sheets available in nine languages - English, French, Germand, Dutch, Italian, spanish, Japanese, Chinese or Esperanto.
Party visits welcomed, guides available for pre-booked parties of 15 or more at no extra cost.
Educational visits welcomed - National Curriculum related activities and worksheets for History, Science, Technology and Geographyavailable, together with Teacher's Resource Pack.



  • On-Site cafe/restaurant/catering
  • Picnic area

Children & Infants

  • Accept children all ages

Establishment Features

  • Accept coach parties
  • Cater for groups
  • Conference facilities
  • Education/study area
  • Facilities for corporate hospitality
  • Gift shop
  • Public toilets

Key Features

  • Non smoking establishment

Parking & Transport

  • Parking (charge)

Payment Methods

  • Credit cards accepted (no fee)

Printed Material in Foreign Languages

  • French printed material
  • German printed material
  • Italian printed material
  • Spanish printed material

Tours and Demonstrations

  • Educational Visits Accepted


Opening Times

* Closed 23rd, 24th and 25th December.

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