Clifford's Tower, York
Clifford's Tower, York

Clifford's Tower is all that remains of York Castle. William the Conqueror built a wooden castle here in 1086, atop a high conical mound over looking the River Ouse.

That first castle was burned by rebellious natives, and a second one built. That building saw one of the most horrifying episodes in York's colourful history in 1190.

A mob of citizens rioted against the Jewish population of York, and 1190 of the Jews took refuge inside the castle. Many of the Jews committed suicide rather than allow themselves to be captured by the bloodthirsty mob outside, and more died when the building was set on fire. The remainder were slaughtered by the mob.

Another wooden castle was built to replace the burned building, but this blew down in the 13th century. A new stone castle in a quatrefoil shape was built in 1270 on the orders of Henry III. The roof of the tower was lost to fire in 1684.

Fairfax House and York Minster from the castle parapet
Fairfax House and York Minster from the castle parapet

In 1322 the tower gained its present name when Roger de Clifford was executed by Edward II for treason. Clifford was hanged in chains from the walls of the tower, and ever after the building has been "Clifford's Tower".

Most of the tower that visitors can see today dates from the 13th century, with some 17th-century additions, notably the Debtor's Prison, Female prison, and Assize Court. Spiral staircases lead to the walls, and those who make the climb are rewarded by superb views of the city.

There is a minimal charge for admission. English Heritage members admitted free.

Clifford's Tower is very close to York Castle Museum.

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About Clifford's Tower
Address: Tower Street, York, Yorkshire, England, YO1 9SA
Attraction Type: Castle
Website: Clifford's Tower
English Heritage - see also: English Heritage memberships (official website)
Location map
OS: SE604 515
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express

Best of Britain Express Art Prints


HeritageWe've 'tagged' this attraction information to help you find related historic attractions and learn more about major time periods mentioned.

Find other attractions tagged with:

castle (Architecture) - William the Conqueror (Person) -


Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest

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