English Heritage have enhanced the visitor experience at Clifford’s Tower in York.  You get views from their new walkway right across the Vale of York to Drax Power Station, the Kilburn White Horse and the Yorkshire Wolds.  York Minster, so dominant in the walled city, looks good from this higher elevation too. The walkway is sited where a roof over the castle keep would have been originally, before it got blown off during an over enthusiastic gun salute on St George’s day in 1684!

Robert Aske was hung in chains from this Tower after he had led a failed uprising against Henry VIII’s closure of the northern monasteries. The Clifford family provided Wardens for the Tower for several generations hence its name, although an earlier Clifford from the same family had been hung there for rebelling against Edward II.


When Kings of England visited York often in the early Middle Ages to defend their Kingdom against the Scots, they could have stayed in this fortified castle: a private suite of rooms would have been available and their decorative chapel and rainwater flush loo survive!  It was a temporary home to the Royal Treasury and Exchequer and there are two distinctive hearths that would have been used to check the purity of metals for minting coins (the assay process).

The Tower is stone built in a distinctive French style, replacing one of York’s two wooden castles that William the Conqueror had needed to secure his authority in the North in 1066.

Some Jewish money lenders sought protection from a baying mob at the earlier Tower here in 1190, but about 150 were abandoned to their fate and died in a fire rather than be forced to convert to Christianity – one of several pogroms from this period in England.  A carpet of yellow six-pointed daffodils, representing the Star of David, flower every February around Clifford’s Tower for remembrance.

Contributed by Louise Fawn, Blue Badge Guide – https://yorkshiresbestguides.co.uk/project/louise-fawn/