Knaresborough is an old historic market town, spa town and civil parish in the Borough of Harrogate, North Yorkshire located on the River Nidd, approximately four miles east of the centre of Harrogate.
Knaresborough is mentioned in the Doomsday Book as Chednarsburg and Knaresborough Castle dates from Norman times; around 1100 the town began to grow, provide a market and attract traders to service the Castle. The present parish church, St John the Baptist, was established around this time. The earliest name for a Lord of Knaresborough is from approximately 1115 when Serlo de Burgh held the ‘Honour of Knaresborough’ from the King.
Hugh de Morville was granted the Honour of Knaresborough in 1158. He was constable of Knaresborough and leader of the group of four knights who murdered Archbishop Thomas Beckett at Canterbury Cathedral on 29 December
1170. The four knights fled to Knaresborough and hid at the castle. Hugh de Morville forfeited the lands in 1173, not for his implication in the murder of Thomas Beckett, but for ‘complicity in the rebellion of young Henry’, according to the Early Yorkshire Charters.
The Honour of Knaresborough then passed to the Stuteville family. When the Stuteville line was broken with the death of Robert de Stuteville IV in 1205, King John effectively took the Honour of
Knaresborough for himself. The first Maundy Money was given out in
Knaresborough by King John on 15 April 1210.
The Town was granted a Royal Charter by King Edward II to hold a market in 1310. A market is still held every Wednesday in the Market Place.
During the Civil War, following the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644, the Castle was besieged by Parliamentary forces. The castle eventually fell and in 1646 an order was made by Parliament for its destruction (but not carried out until 1648). The destruction was mainly done by citizens looting the stone which many of the town centre buildings are constructed from.