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Clifford's Tower

The Clifford Tower is what remains of the York Castle. It is situated in the centre of York, North Yorkshire.

Clifford’s Tower History

The Clifford's Tower we see today was built in the 13th century by Henry III, but there has been a castle on this site since the time of William the Conqueror. Shortly after the Norman invasion in 1066, William had castles constructed in York to control the North of England.

Those castles were located where Clifford's Tower stands today and another just across the River Ouse.

The original York castle was a Motte and Bailey with a keep made of timber. In 1190 the timber keep was burned to the ground. The keep was rebuilt in timber again but was blown down by a storm.

In 1245 King Henry III had the castle strengthened due to tensions between England and Scotland. It is at this time that the castle switched from timber to stone.

York Castle once had curtain walls, gatehouses, and the central King's Keep. But all that remains today is the central keep which was renamed Clifford's Tower around 1596 after Roger Clifford who was a leader of the Lancastrians. He was hung in chains along the walls of the keep after the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322.

During the Civil War, the castle was occupied by the Royalists until the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644 when York surrendered to the Parliamentarians who took possession of the keep. In 1648 a fire destroyed the interior of the keep.

In 1825 Clifford's Tower was bought and was included within the area of the new prison and was no longer accessible to the citizens of York. In 1935, when parts of the prison were demolished, it was once more visible to the public as one of the chief attractions of the city of York.

The castle is now in the care of English Heritage.

Clifford’s Tower Visitor Information

Clifford Tower is situated in York, England, off of Tower Street in York's City Centre. The tower is open to the public.

Clifford’s Tower Highlights

Clifford's Tower is located in the city centre of York and is easily accessible from anywhere in the city. It is a walk of about a mile from the train station. No trip to York would be complete without visiting the tower and the York Castle Museum next door.

The keep sits on a high mound and is shaped roughly like a four leaf clover which is unique for castles in England, although the Chateau d'Etampes near Paris France has a similar size and shape.

The roof of Clifford Tower no longer covers the tower except just above the forebuilding as you enter the keep. There are spiral staircases that provide access to the upper floors and the wall walk at the top. Excellent views of York and the York Minster can be seen from the wall walk.

Opening times:

It is open daily:

  • 10am to 6pm 01 April - 30 September
  • 10am to 5pm 01 October - 31 October
  • 10am to 4pm 01 November - 31 March

Closed: 24-26th December

A gift shop is also available for visitors.

Contact information:

For more information about Clifford's Tower Tours please visit the official website or contact the Visitor Centre at 01904 621756

York Castle Museum is located next to the Clifford's Tower and here you can find information about visiting times and tickets: official website or contact by phone: 01904 687687

Clifford’s Tower Map&Location

Clifford’s Tower address: Tower Street, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 9SA. Use this map to get directions:

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Clifford’s Tower Photos

Click on the photos to enlarge
Clifford’s Tower Hill and walls - Photos © Xerones
Cliffords Tower Hill
Cliffords Tower walls

Clifford's Tower, York - Photo © sudeepuk
Cliffords Tower Photo © Scuba Steve

Clifford's Tower - Photo © Amber Gowens Hirschberg
Cliffords Tower in the York city Photo © Click-track Heart 

Cliffords Tower inside - Photo © Todd Martin
York Castle Museum - Photo © Paul Kelly
York Castle Museum courtyard - Photo © Chris Wilkinson