Immerse yourself in historic culture in these Knaresborough properties
Like pretty much everywhere worldwide, Knaresborough has been a little quieter than usual of late.
Had coronavirus not hit, the town would have just wrapped up feva, its annual cultural extravaganza of arts, crafts, music and dance, which draws visitors from across the region over 10 days each August.
As it was, the festival offered a much slimmed-down programme online, adapting to the difficult circumstances in the only way that remained available.
Feva is just one element of a rich cultural life that many similar-sized towns would struggle to match. But then, Knaresborough has a very long and vivid history to draw upon.
Dating from at least Anglo-Saxon times – its name was originally Chenaresburg, meaning "Cenheard's fortress" – it gave its name to the surrounding area, Knaresborough Forest, which was a favourite hunting ground of King John.
There was also a Jewish community and synagogue here until the Jews were expelled from England in 1290.
A Royal Charter to hold a market was granted in 1310 – there is still one held every Wednesday in the market square – and Scottish marauders burned the town down a few years later.
The castle, originally Norman, played a major role in the powerplays of medieval England, but was demolished by the Parliamentarians after they won the English Civil War. Its ruins still stand atop the crag which towers 120 feet above the River Nidd.
Ursula Southeil, otherwise known as soothsayer Mother Shipton, is reputed to have been born towards the end of the 15th century in the cave which now bears her name, and proto-terrorist Guy Fawkes grew up in nearby Scotton.
But it is of course the river itself which gives the town its reason for being and so much of its charm. The textile industry thrived here for centuries due to the river; Tentergate was so named because it was where cloth was stretched out to dry on “tenterhooks”.
The iconic railway viaduct which strides across the river was built in 1851 and is now Grade II* listed.
Nowadays, the river serves no industrial purpose, but does attract visitors by their thousands – pandemics notwithstanding – who ply a stretch of it in hired rowing boats.
If all that history and culture isn’t enough, Knaresborough also has all the practical amenities that many other charming towns lack, such as good schools and a railway station.
The result is a town which must surely feature highly in any ranking of towns by “liveability”, and yet, happily for buyers, house prices remain a shade more affordable than similar properties in neighbouring Harrogate. The following homes are three of the very best, and are currently for sale.
Mousehole stands in a stunning position overlooking Nidd Gorge, with far-reaching views to the south, plus river frontage and riparian rights on the River Nidd via a private landing stage. It has three bedrooms, one of them occupying the whole of the top floor, plus two bathrooms, dining kitchen and lounge. Outside, there is a small terrace and lawned area, courtyard with summerhouse and store, a covered storeroom, garage and off-street parking spaces.
Manor Cottage is a rare Grade II-listed thatched house just near the river, and is understood originally to date from the 13th century. It has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, dining kitchen and two reception rooms, plus a good-sized garden to the front, with a stunning view over Waterside towards the viaduct. The current owners have allocated parking on Waterside.
Finally, Tenter Turret Cottage is a Grade II-listed Georgian property set back in an elevated position overlooking the castle and river. It has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen and lounge/dining room, plus three balconies and even a “cave” area accessed via patio doors from the lounge. Outside, there is a lawned roof-level garden to the rear and a wooden walkway leading to the vast turreted private roof terrace with broad views across to the castle and river.