Clifton Castle

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Manor House, and also as a Possible Pele Tower

There are masonry footings remains

NameClifton Castle
Alternative NamesClifton upon Ure; Masham; Clifton super Yoram
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishClifton On Yore

The manor of Clifton anciently belonged to the Lords Scrope of Masham. Geoffrey le Scrope obtained license to make a castle of his house at Clifton in the reign of Edward II (1307-27 AD). Clifton Castle was erected in 1806 on the site of the ancient castellated mansion (Whellan).

Running N from a quadrangle of buildings on the NW of the Castle, is an old stone rubble wall believed to be a survival from the original castle (Listed Report)

Castle erected 1320. Written evidence held by owners. There are no remains other than the portion of walling previously noted. This is 17m long x 2.5 x 0.8m and it cannot be put into context with the original castle. (Field Investigators Comments–F1 RE 04-JAN-73) (PastScape)

Clifton Castle, the residence of Lady Cowell, stands in a well-wooded park which slopes down to the river. It is an ashlar-built house in the classical style of the early 19th century. The site is that of the older castle, the foundations of which form part of the cellars of the present building. A drawing made in 1805 shows a portion of the ruins with a buttress of two stages, a large pointed archway and other details; it was described by Leland as a 'house caullid Clifton, like a pile or castelet.' On the south side of the house, outside the area of the present cellars, but on a level with them, is a stone-built well, which formed the original water supply of the castle. (VCH)

Gatehouse Comments

The form of the house that Geoffrey le Scrope was granted a licence for is unclear. Leland's description suggest something modest. A curtain walled court with a small gatehouse and/or a mainly timber hall with one or two attached crenellated masonry tower blocks would be a reasonable suggestion on the bases of other licenced houses. Scrope was a very important political figure in the early C14 but he was not a baron.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSE218842
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  • Jackson, M.J., 2001, Castles of North Yorkshire (Carlisle)
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 29
  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 421
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 532 (possible)
  • Pevsner, N., 1966, Buildings of England: Yorkshire: North Riding (London, Penguin) p. 122
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1914, VCH Yorkshire: North Riding Vol. 1 p. 344-6 online transcription
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 213 online copy
  • Whellan T, 1859, History and topography of the city of York and the North Riding of Yorkshire Vol. 2 p. 384 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 407 online copy


  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1908, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 2 p. 2 online copy


  • 1972, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 128 p. 188

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1903, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward II (1317-21) Vol. 3 p. 26 online copy


  • Creighton, O.H., 1998, Castles and Landscapes: An Archaeological Survey of Yorkshire and the East Midlands (PhD Thesis University of Leicester) p. 588-9 online copy