Knaresborough Castle

View on map  

Find a trail - visit the official visitor site for Yorkshire

Knaresborough Castle

Knaresborough was an important site to Turner and he visited twice, in 1797 and again in 1816.  In 1797, he found plenty of material to sketch, including a fine view of Knaresborough Castle, a ruined medieval fortress overlooking the River Nidd. 

By the time of his second visit in 1816, Turner was established as the leading landscape painter of his age and he was looking for further landscape subjects and he made numerous sketches of the town.

Dogs accepted

Turner's Viewpoint

In 1797, Turner sketched Knaresborough Castle and the castle mills from the opposite side of the river (Knaresborough Castle and Castle Mills from the South, 'North of England' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: XXXIV 18).   He later developed a watercolour (Knaresborough Castle, Private Collection).

On his return in 1816, he explored views from the south, north and west in his pocketbook (for example, Town with Ruined Castle on Hill. Knaresborough, 'Yorkshire 1' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLIV 56a and Ruins of Castle on Hill. Knaresborough 'Yorkshire 1' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLIV 63a and Knaresborough Castle, 'Yorkshire 1' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLIV 106), while in his larger sketchbook he recorded distant views from the north west and south east (Knaresborough, 'Yorkshire 3' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLVI 31 and Finberg number: CXLVI 32). 

From this material, he developed a superb finished watercolour (Knaresborough, Yorkshire, Private Colection, Wilton number: 804, NB: online image not available), painted perhaps about 1825, in which he returned to a slightly more distant version of the composition he had first developed in 1797, but using his 1816 sketches to produce a more comprehensive view of the town and castle. The smoke rising from the castle mills is possibly a sign of the advancing industrial revolution, as the traditional water power of the mill was augmented by new steam engines.

Discover The Landscape

Castles in Turner's Yorkshire

Download our themed leaflet and let the walls guide you around more than a dozen of Yorkshire's magnificent castles sketched and painted by Turner.

The Venue


Castle Yard, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, HG5 8AS

Map reference: SE349569

View on map
Directions to Knaresborough Castle:

4 miles west of the A1 on the A59