Knaresborough

Knaresborough, Mother Shipton’s Cave & The Petrifying Well, North Yorkshire, England

Attractions and events
Sights in the town include remains of Knaresborough Castle, Mother Shipton’s petrifying well and several cave dwellings, one a chapel, dating from the Middle Ages. Knaresborough is also the site of the oldest chemist shop in England, opened in 1720.

Every year the town hosts a number of large social events, chief among them being the Knaresborough Bed Race. Every summer, teams of locals and visitors, comprising six runners and one passenger, decorate special tube frame ‘beds’ for a parade through the town. Then, once the beds have been stripped of their non-essential decorations, they compete to push the bed on a combination race/time trial through the town. The climax of the race comes when the teams must cross the River Nidd and climb a steep muddy bank to reach the finish line. Beds without sufficient flotation devices have been known to sink. Although most teams are local, competitors often come from across the country and from Knaresborough’s German twin town Bebra to compete. Past celebrities who have taken part include James Whale and Peter Duncan, who famously ran the course for his show ‘Duncan Dares’.

Public Open Spaces
The principle areas of public open space in the town are the Knaresborough Castle grounds, the nearby Bebra Gardens (formerly Moat Gardens) named after Knaresborough’s twin town in Germany, the Conyngham Hall grounds, Horseshoe Field, the King George V Playing Field. Jacob Smith Park, a 30 hectare parkland on the edge of the town bequeathed to Knaresborough by Miss Winifred Jacob Smith, is planned to open in late 2006.

The most famous example of Mother Shipton’s prophecies apparently foretells many aspects common to modern civilization, and predicts the end of the world in 1881, however it is now known to be a 19th century forgery:

Carriages without horses shall go,
And accidents fill the world with woe.
Around the world thoughts shall fly
In the twinkling of an eye.
The world upside down shall be
And gold be found at the root of a tree.
Through hills man shall ride,
And no horse be at his side.
Under water men shall walk,
Shall ride, shall sleep, shall talk.
In the air men shall be seen,
In white, in black, in green;
Iron in the water shall float,
As easily as a wooden boat.
Gold shall be found and shown
In a land that’s now not known.
Fire and water shall wonders do,
England shall at last admit a foe.
The world to an end shall come,
In eighteen hundred and eighty one.
It is a subject of debate that Mother Shipton was largely a myth, and that many of her prophecies were composed by others after her death, and after the events they ‘predicted’. Her prophecies were apparently recorded in a series of diaries but the first published book of her work did not appear until 1641 and the most noted work, by Richard Head, came out in 1684. Head later admitted to inventing almost all Shipton’s biographical details.

The details of her life as recorded by Head state that she was born in Knaresborough, Yorkshire, and was reputedly hideously ugly – supposedly because she was fathered by the Devil. She married Toby Shipton, a local carpenter, near York in 1512 and is said to have told fortunes and made predictions throughout her life.

Famous residents
Mother Shipton was a medieval seer who is said to have been born in a cave south of the town. Born Ursula Southeil around 1488, Mother Shipton is now considered to be largely mythical.
John Metcalf, otherwise known as “Blind Jack”. Blind Jack was born on August 15th, 1717 into a working class family and had a typical upbringing. At the age of six, he lost his sight to a smallpox infection. Losing his sight in childhood did not deter him from carrying on a productive life as he learned to play the violin and guided people around Knaresborough. Later in life he became a roadmaker, building hundreds of roads and bridges in the Northern England. Blind Jack died in 1810 at the age of 92 in Spofforth.
Guy Fawkes once lived in Knaresborough
Richard II was imprisoned in the town
The four knights accused of murdering Thomas Beckett were also said to have taken refuge in Knaresborough.
The noted 18th century scholar and murderer Eugene Aram lived here.
Lord Inman of Knaresborough (Philip Inman) former Chairman of the BBC was born here

Transport
Knaresborough is served by Knaresborough railway station, on the Harrogate to York line. The town lies some four miles from junction 47 of the A1(M) Motorway.Text provided by our friends at wikipedia

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