Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Inside Knaresborough Castle and Courthouse, Knaresborough, England

On a previous visit to Knaresborough, we were unable to get inside the castle or the courthouse. That problem was solved on an August visit (yes, this post has been long overdue)! We took the tour of the castle, the sally port, and the courthouse inside the castle yard, which is now a museum.

Knaresborough Castle ruins (outside)

Posing by the ruins

Our first visit was to the ruins of the castle. After paying our admission, we were let inside to wander among what was left.

Knaresborough Castle ruins (inside--not much difference here)

The castle is in ruins because it supported the Royalists in the English Civil War. After they lost the Battle of Marston Moor in July 1644 to the Parliamentarians, the castle was besieged and fell after five months. Parliament ordered the destruction of the castle in 1646, which was more or less completed in 1648. The locals petitioned to have the King's Tower and the courthouse left standing to use as a prison and a courthouse, respectively. Our tour began in the King's Tower, which dates from the 1300s.

We went upstairs (always a favorite with J) to the King's Chamber, presumably because that's where the royalty stayed when they visited the castle.

View from the top of the stairs

Hanging out in the King's Chamber

Enjoying the stairs!

On the main floor is the rooms where business was conducted. One is even kitted out with proper prison equipment!

L getting the business

The garderobe, where you did your business

Heading off to the dungeon

The dungeon was a storage room, which was especially helpful during the siege.

Inside the dungeon

Back outside we took the tour of the sally port, a secret passage used to send out armed men to break up sieges or send out messages unbeknownst to the besiegers. The castle had a moat around it which was a dry ditch. The sally port leads out into the moat near the east gate.

East gate

Entrance to the sally port

The tunnel is nearly eight feet high and six feet wide, providing plenty of space for a small party of armed men to sally forth against enemy besiegers. The walls are mortared rubble and eventually solid rock. The path was a little slippery and is home to some non-dangerous though quite scary spiders.

Inside the sally port

Please don't drop on me like spiders do in Baldur's Gate!!

The moat exit

The courthouse is a museum dedicated to legal things and Knaresborough things. The courtroom is still set up with some mannequins.

The judge ready to pass judgement

The plaintiffs and the shop

Some items are of local historical interest. This Viameter (basically an odometer) was used by Blind Jack Metcalfe, a local man who was blinded by smallpox at the age of six. This handicap didn't stop him from having a full life. He was a fiddler and road builder and jack of all trades. He died at the age of 93, with four children, twenty grandchildren, and ninety great-grandchildren.

Blind Jack's Viameter

This chest is from Queen Phillipa (1315-1369), wife of Edward III. She made Knaresborough Castle into a summer residence for the royal family. She was a popular and intelligent queen, sponsoring many artists like Chaucer and adding refinement to the English court.

Queen Phillipa's chest

The museum also has a children's area with the usual dress-up and drawing activities.

J in a medieval robe

L plays Nine Men Morris

We were glad finally to see the inside of the castle, sally port, and courthouse in Knaresborough.

No comments:

Post a Comment