5 reasons to love Knaresborough

Knaresborough Castle

Knaresborough Castle - Credit: Joan Russell

Five key figures in the town share what they love about Knaresborough

Knaresborough bed race

Knaresborough bed race - Credit: Andrew Hawkes

Bed Race

The Knaresborough Lions group organise the annual bed race which has been a fun-filled fixture in the town’s calendar for 50 years. Secretary Nigel Perry said: ‘There were 630 runners and riders in the race this year and we reckon about 15,000 people have taken part over the years.

‘There is a really strong sense of community in Knaresborough and lots of people get involved in what’s going on. It’s a self-contained town and it does have a bit of a chip on its shoulder because it’s so close to Harrogate which is such a wealthy town where they don’t have to work so hard to attract huge numbers of tourists. I think makes people here want to work harder and do more and that works well for Knaresborough.

‘People are very competitive round here and they take their fun seriously. Harrogate is a lovely place but Knaresborough has a great atmosphere and plenty of spirit.’  www.bedrace.co.uk


Frazer Theatre

David Crosthwaite is the chairman of the Knaresborough Players who run the Frazer Theatre. He grew up close to Wembley Stadium and moved to Knaresborough for a teaching job in 1971. ‘I had never heard of Knaresborough when I first saw the advert but a friend from Yorkshire told me it was a nice place and when I arrived for the interview I remember thinking “I could be happy here”,’ he said.

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‘I have now lived in Knaresborough for the best part of 40 years, with a short break, since I started my first job at King James School.

‘One of the most important things for me is that although it has grown enormously in the time I have been here, it retains a very friendly character and an intimate and really pleasant atmosphere.

‘There’s also a very active community with an awful lot going on – the Bed Race and the Feva Festival are big events and the Frazer Theatre supports a lot of community activities.

‘The town has retained a unique character as a very attractive town with the Crag, the river and the castle. Although it has grown, it has kept that character and it is very popular with visitors, particularly on a sunny afternoon.’

* Knaresborough Players have run the Frazer Theatre for more than 50 years and will present Little Shop of Horrors at Frazer Theatre from September 1st-5th. Tickets are available from frazertheatre.co.uk

Knaresborough mayor Andrew Willoughy on a boat on the Nidd with his wife Christine, the mayoress

Knaresborough mayor Andrew Willoughy on a boat on the Nidd with his wife Christine, the mayoress - Credit: not Archant


Meet the mayor

Knaresborough-born Andrew Willoughby is in his second stint at the town’s mayor and is enjoying the role which, he says, gives him a different perspective of the place. ‘It’s quite different from the first time I was mayor and it has given me a different outlook. I always though Knaresborough was good and now I’m in a position to be able to say it is.’

And he added: ‘What’s really good about living here is that it’s like being on holiday all the time. There’s the castle and the bed race and Feva which are all wonderful, but there’s also lots going on in-between, you can always find something to look at and enjoy. There’s a long list of things to do and see, you can row on the river, visit the Mother Shipton estate and see the whole town, go to Cunningham Hall, visit Horseshoe Field and Mackintosh Park – wherever you go there’s something to do, a bench to sit on and a view to look at.

‘I was born and brought up here at a time when eight or ten year olds could roam free and I loved the place. I still do and I’m 61 now. As a child I don’t think you realise that other laces don’t all have a castle and a river and park with a paddling pool and all the other wonderful things we have in Knaresborough. As you grow older you come to appreciate the town in a different way.

‘There’s the town at the top of the hill and the river at the bottom and it’s hard to get lost between the two, although you may get distracted because there’s always something fresh to experience.’


Feva Festival

Tony Cerexhe, chairs the organising committee for Feva, Knaresborough’s Festival of Arts and Visual Entertainment. He is originally from Galloway and said: ‘I moved to Knaresborough 30 years ago for work and have never regretted it. It’s the longest we’ve stayed in one place but it’s such a lovely place to be.’

He was involved in Knaresborough Festival and when that came to an end, was part of the group that launched Feva.

‘One of the major things about Knaresborough is the strong sense of community and the willingness to get behind things that are happening in the town. Knaresborough has a lot of very favourable attributes and some scenic beauty but I think there’s also a certain spirit about the town that makes it special. Feva happens for 10 days every August and I think it’s when the town really comes alive. Local businesses get into the spirit of things by decorating their premises and the festival brings a lot of people to the town.

‘Feva has been running for 15 years now and we have managed to make it grow into something that people like to be associated with and that has substantial economic benefits for the town. I’m particularly looking forward to the picnic in the park and the beach party at the end of the festival, on Knaresborough Beach, which we build with 40 tonnes of sand at Henshaw’s Arts and Crafts Centre.

Feva runs from August 14th-23rd at venues around the town. For more information go to feva.info


Arts and culture

Jane Sellars is the grandly titled manager of cultural services and curator of art for the Harrogate area and her remit includes Knaresborough Castle and Museum. She said: ‘Knaresborough Castle is just such a beautiful spot. The park is lovely, the views are amazing and it’s surrounded by medieval ruins. The town itself is in a great location and has lots of charming and quirky buildings and wonderful views over the river and the gorge.’

The museum re-opened earlier in the summer after refurbishment which saw new display panels added and a new shop created.

Some of those views Jane is so fond of are on show now at Harrogate’s Mercer Art Gallery in paintings by Joseph Baker Fountain, a bricklayer who took up painting in his 50s and created images of the town as he remembered it from his childhood in the early 20th century.

Jane, who has written a book about Fountain, added: ‘His meticulously painted views of Knaresborough, with its crammed old houses clambering up the hill to the ancient ruined castle, attracted many admirers and he made quirky handbuilt ceramic figures too.’

The exhibition of Joseph Baker Fountain’s paintings of Knaresborough will be on show at the Mercer Art Gallery on Swan Road Harrogate until November 15th. For more details visit harrogate.gov.uk/mercerartgallery





Need to know

Where it is: Knaresborough straddles the A59 between Harrogate and the A1(M) It can also be reached by rail direct from Leeds and York. Typing HG5 0EH into your satnav should lead you to the town centre.

Where to park: There are four town centre car parks and others beside some of the main tourist attractions. Some free on-street parking is available too.

Where to eat and drink: There’s a terrific mix of pubs, cafes, restaurants and delis around the town centre. We particularly like tea and cake at the Ugly Duckling cafe by the river and the selection of local beers on offer at the pubs around town.

Did you know: Mother Shipton’s Cave has been a tourist attraction in Knaresborough for hundreds of years. Despite her name, she had no children and her rhyming prophecies – many of which are thought to have been written and attributed to her long after her death in 1561 – could be taken to mean just about anything. On one thing she was crystal clear, though: ‘The women shall adopt a craze/To dress like men, and trousers wear/And to cut off their locks of hair’. That one got higher billing in her prophetic poem than the end of the world.

Find out more: The Tourist Information Centre (01423 866886) is in Castle Courtyard, just off the Market Place.

Join in: Did we miss your favourite thing about Knaresborough? Let us know – send an email to feedback@yorkshirelife.co.uk,or join the debate on Twitter at @Yorkshire_Life.