Spofforth Castle

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Opening Times:

1 April-30 September 10am-6pm;
1 October-28 2013 March 10am - 4pm
Closed 24-26 December and 1 January



Venue contact details:

T: 01904 601974
W: www.english-heritage.org.uk

Spofforth Castle

Turner visited Spofforth Castle twice, during 1797 and again in 1816 when making illustrations for Whitaker's grand history of York series. His first visit was as part of an excursion from nearby Harewood House, where he was staying as the guest of the Earl of Harewood.

Turner would have been particularly interested in Spofforth, built in the 14th century as a fortified manor house, for its connections with the Percy family - a great medieval dynasty with castles at Alnwick and Warkworth in Northumberland, and a tomb in Beverley Minster, which Turner also sketched on the same tour.

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Turner's Viewpoint

Turner sketched the castle from its western aspect, concentrating on its octagonal tower during his 1797 visit, but also including the more modest farm buildings to the left (Spofforth Castle: West Side, 'North of England' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: XXXIV 75).

In 1816, although he made a number of close up reference studies of the castle, he was looking for a more distant view.  Turner made a number of smaller sketches in his pocketbook, again mostly from viewpoints to the west, but seems to have been satisfied that he had already found the most characteristic aspect with which to work, had the opportunity to make a finished watercolour materialised (Spofforth [Turner], 'Yorkshire 1' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLIV 6a).

Turner's actual viewpoint is very easy to locate at a corner of the ruined hall and chamber.

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 Street, Spofforth, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG3 1AR

Map reference: SE360511

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Directions to Spofforth Castle:

3.5 miles SE of Harrogate; off A661 at Spofforth