Splash of spring colour in long history of tower

PIC: Gary Longbottom
PIC: Gary Longbottom
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it’s a sure sign spring is here when a sea of sunshine-coloured daffodils appears on grassy verges.

Clifford’s Tower, York, pictured, is one such. The imposing building, which stands some 5oft in height, was once a gaol for debtors and female prisoners but now forms part of the city’s walls.

It’s four leaf clover design of overlapping circles - known as a quadrilobate plan’ - was considered unique at the time.

Today the 13th Century tower, now roofless, stands ruined by the ravages of time and the weather but is nonetheless the largest remnant of York Castle.

It is built on the site of another tower, which dated from the 11th century and which was burned down during a siege in 1190 in which the Jewish occupants of the city were trapped inside, eventually committing mass suicide.

The story has it that riots began following false rumours that the king, Richard I, had ordered the massacre of all Jews.

A plaque at the base of the mound, commemorating these events, was installed in 1978.

Going back even further, William the Conqueror built a castle on the site in 1068 as he marched north in an attempt to crush a rebellion and there is even evidence of a Roman cemetery on the site.

The surviving building was originally known as ‘the King’s Tower’. The first recorded use of the name ‘Clifford’s Tower’ was not until 1596 but there is no clear reason as to why - some have suggested it got its name following the execution of Roger de Clifford, who was executed after the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322 and whose body was displayed on a gibbet at the castle.

Even in the 1300s, however, the structure of the tower was beginning to show wear. In 1596–7 a public scandal arose when the aldermen of York accused the gaoler, Robert Redhead, of trying to demolish the derelict tower and sell the stone for lime-burning.

In 1643 it was occupied once again by a royal garrison during the English Civil War.

It is possible to visit inside the tower, with admission prices of around £5 for adults and £3 for children.

Technical details: Nikon D800 camera with a 17-55mm lens at 24mm with an exposure of 1/250th sec at f22 and ISO of 320

The tower’s original timber structure was constructed by William the Conqueror in 1068. After being destroyed and rebuilt in 1190 due to a fire during the massacre of almost 150 jews, and again in 1245 from wind damage, Henry III ordered the tower be rebuilt prior to his war with the Scots, but this time in stone.

However the stone structure then became the target for theives, with Robert Readhead deconstructing parts of the stonework and selling it on for his own profit in 1596.

After even further destruction of the stone structure through wind, fire and water damage, the tower was abandoned in 1680’s after it was burnt out during the Civil War.

In the 18th century the ownership of the Tower continuously changed hands, with reports of it being used as cattle shed and stable, and even simply of a garden feature.

In 1890 the Tower was named a national monunment and later revieved a grant of £3,000 for conservation and repairs to the stonework and structure.

The Tower was initially known as the King’s Tower, named after Henry III who had commissioned it. However the first recorded use of the name ‘Clifford’s Tower’ was not until 1596 but there is no clear reason to date why ‘Clifford’ was chosen. ome historians believe it got its name from execution of Roger de Clifford, who was hanged in chains inside the Tower’s walls for treason.

It is possible to visit inside the tower, with admission prices of around £5 for adults and £3 for children.

Technical details: Nikon D800 camera with a 17-55mm lens at 24mm with an exposure of 1/250th sec at f22 and iso of 320

Chloe, left, and Clementine, middle with milliner Jenny Roberts.

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