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Historic England Research Records

Cliffords Tower

Hob Uid: 1379266
Location :
York
Non Civil Parish
Grid Ref : SE6047051480
Summary : A castle keep, known as Clifford's Tower, built between 1245 and 1272 for Henry III. It stands on a motte, which was originally larger and surrounded by a deep moat. The stone-built tower is quatrefoil in plan and is entered through a buttressed forebuilding to the south. Spiral staircases set within the thickness of the walls once led to the upper floors and the wall walk. The original forebuilding contained a chapel, which documents indicate was reroofed in lead in 1312. The tower was repaired in 1360-65, after subsidence caused cracks to appear in the masonry. The building was allowed to fall into disrepair over the 15th and 16th centuries and the upper portion of the tower was demolished in 1596 by a gaoler, who dismantled it in order to sell the stone. The forebuilding was largely rebuilt between 1642 and 1643 while the tower was garrisoned by the Royalists. The tower was damaged during the seige of 1644 and repaired in 1652, but was gutted by an explosion in 1684 and largely abandoned. By the 18th century, the keep had become an ornamental feature in the grounds of a large house to the north east and in 1818, parts of the structure were altered to serve as dovecotes. In 1825, the tower was included in the grounds of a new prison. Restoration work was carried out in 1902-3, 1915, 1920-23 and 1936.
More information : CASTLE PRECINCT

Clifford's Tower and portions of the outer walls of the Castle.
C12. A roofless massive stone structure standing on a Norman mound. The entrance building with old tile roof was partially reconstructed after being damaged during the seige of York in 1644. The stone panel bearing the Clifford Arms is later C17. The upper floor forms the chapel and has late C13 arcading inside. The tower is of unusual quatrefoil shape. The moats have been filled in and the drawbridge destroyed, but some of the enclosing wall remains. A.M. (RCHM Vol II) (1)

Clifford's Tower SCHEDULED York SE 605515. (2)

SE 60475148. Castle keep, known as Clifford's Tower, built between 1245 and 1272 for Henry III. It stands on a motte, which was originally larger and surrounded by a deep moat. The stone-built tower is quatrefoil in plan and is entered through a buttressed forebuilding to the south. Spiral staircases set within the thickness of the walls once led to the upper floors and the wall walk. The original forebuilding contained a chapel, which documents indicate was reroofed in lead in 1312. The tower was repaired in 1360-65, after subsidence caused cracks to appear in the masonry. The building was allowed to fall into disrepair over the 15th and 16th centuries and the upper portion of the tower was demolished in 1596 by a gaoler, who dismantled it in order to sell the stone. The forebuilding was largely rebuilt between 1642 and 1643 while the tower was garrisoned by the Royalists. The tower was damaged during the seige of 1644 and repaired in 1652, but was gutted by an explosion in 1684 and largely abandoned. By the 18th century, the keep had become a garden feature and in 1818, parts of the structure were altered to serve as dovecotes. In 1825, the tower was included in the grounds of a new prison. Restoration work was carried out in 1902-3, 1915, 1920-23 and 1936. (3-7)

Additional references. (8,9)

NMR aerial photographs (10-13)

The English Heritage members habdbook for 2009/10 includes a brief summary of the tower and details visitor arrangements. (14)

A website, with an overview of the history of the castle, including mention of the wooden castles that preceded the stone keep. The first was begun in 1068 but was destroyed in a rebellion in 1069 and then rebuilt again. In 1190 the wooden castle was again burnt down, this time it was the scene of a terrible pogrom by a mob against the Jewish community in York who had fled to saftey there. (15)

Overview of the relationship between the jews of medieval York and the tower. (16)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : District of York, 14th March 1997
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Source Number : 2
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : EH Scheduling amendment, 31st March 1992
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Source Number : 11
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : SE6051/41-4 03/08/1991; SE6051/45-9, 69-73 29/07/1991; SE6051/50-1 07/08/1991; SE6051/64, 66-8 08/08/1991; SE6051/93-110 24/12/1991
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Source Number : 12
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : SE6051/40, 51-61 11/01/1992; SE6051/75-8 11/06/1992; SE6051/111-12 31/10/1992
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Source Number : 13
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : SE6051/80-7, 92 06/03/1993; SE6051/184-5, 190 27/03/2002
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Source Number : 14
Source : English Heritage Visitor Handbook 2009/10
Source details :
Page(s) : 201
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Source Number : 15
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Clifford's Tower, Tangled Spider, no date. "Clifford's Tower" <> [Accessed 21-MAY-2009]
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Source Number : 16
Source : Clifford's Tower and the jews of medieval York
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Source Number : 3
Source : An inventory of the historical monuments in the City of York. Volume II: the defences
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Source Number : 4
Source : Clifford's Tower, York Castle
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Source Number : 5
Source : Clifford's Tower and the castles of York
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Source Number : 6
Source : Clifford's Tower and the castles of York
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Source Number : 7
Source : Yorkshire : York and the East Riding
Source details :
Page(s) : 190-191
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Source Number : 8
Source : Clifford's Tower, York Castle
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Source Number : 9
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Ministry of Works. 1960. Clifford's Tower, York Castle: Guide (BH St J O'Neil)
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Source Number : 10
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : SE 6051/1-12 29/04/1970; SE6051/14 (postcard); SE6051/113-16 01/01/1980; SE6051/17, 62 22/07/1983; SE6051/37-8 05/05/1988
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built 1245-72
Monument End Date : 1272
Monument Start Date : 1245
Monument Type : Tower Keep, Motte
Evidence : Ruined Building, Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Chapel reroofed 1312
Monument End Date : 1312
Monument Start Date : 1312
Monument Type : Tower Keep, Chapel
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : From 1825
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date : 1825
Monument Type : Prison
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Repaired 1902-03
Monument End Date : 1903
Monument Start Date : 1902
Monument Type : Prison
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Repaired 1915
Monument End Date : 1915
Monument Start Date : 1915
Monument Type : Prison
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Repaired 1920-23
Monument End Date : 1923
Monument Start Date : 1920
Monument Type : Prison
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Repaired 1936
Monument End Date : 1936
Monument Start Date : 1936
Monument Type : Prison
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Repaired 1360-65
Monument End Date : 1365
Monument Start Date : 1360
Monument Type : Tower Keep
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Partly demolished 1596-7
Monument End Date : 1597
Monument Start Date : 1596
Monument Type : Tower Keep
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Forebuilding rebuilt 1642-3
Monument End Date : 1643
Monument Start Date : 1642
Monument Type : Tower Keep
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Damaged in 1644
Monument End Date : 1644
Monument Start Date : 1644
Monument Type : Tower Keep
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Repaired in 1652
Monument End Date : 1652
Monument Start Date : 1652
Monument Type : Tower Keep
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : By C18
Monument End Date : 1700
Monument Start Date : 1684
Monument Type : Garden Feature
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Gutted by fire in 1684
Monument End Date : 1684
Monument Start Date : 1684
Monument Type : Tower Keep
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : In 1818
Monument End Date : 1818
Monument Start Date : 1818
Monument Type : Dovecote
Evidence : Ruined Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 61945
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 462999
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 366
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 13275
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SE 65 SW 395
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 536711
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 536712
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 536704
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, CLIFFORD'S TOWER
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1824-01-01
End Date : 1824-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CLIFFORD'S TOWER
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1902-01-01
End Date : 1902-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CLIFFORD'S TOWER AND TOWER STREET WATER AND DRAINAGE TRENCH, YORK
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1992-01-01
End Date : 1992-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CLIFFORD'S TOWER MOUND
Activity type : CORE SAMPLING
Start Date : 2015-01-01
End Date : 2015-12-31