Site is open to the public. Opening may be limited, please check Visitor Information for any restrictions.


Brief description of site

Castle Grounds is a public park featuring the motte and keep of a 12th-century castle, with early 19th-century garden terraces. There is a turf labyrinth designed by Jim Buchanan, which was opened in 2006.

Brief history of site

The castle keep was built around 1186. The garden terraces date from the early 19th century, when the site was the grounds of a private residence. The mound and adjacent grounds have been used as a public park since the 1920s.

Location information:

Address: The Castle, Clitheroe, Lancashire, BB7 2JY

Locality: Lancashire

Local Authorities:

Lancashire; Ribble Valley; Clitheroe

Historical County: Lancashire

OS Landranger Map Sheet Number: 103 Grid Ref: SD741416
Latitude: 53.87 Longitude: -2.39537


Centre of Clitheroe

Visitor facilities

Opening contact details:

01200 24635
Grounds open daily - check for details.

Visitor information:

Refreshments. Skatepark. Events.

Key information:

Form of site: public park

Purpose of site: urban park

Context or principal building: castle

Site first created: After 1186

Main period of development: Early 19th century

Survival: Part: standing remains


The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

A castle mound, used as the grounds of a private residence, with garden terraces laid out in the early 19th century, the mound and adjacent land being developed for use as a public park in the 1920s.



The Castle and grounds of 6.8ha are situated on the western side of Clitheroe. The land falls steeply on all sides from the castle mound, down to level ground to the west and south, on which the grounds are laid out. The western boundary is formed by the railway line and the southern boundary is Eshton Terrace and the gardens of the houses, built in the 1840s, which stand along the north side of this road. The other boundaries are marked by the buildings on Parson Lane to the north-west, the buildings on Moor Lane to the north-east, and by Woone Lane to the east.


The main entrance to the Castle grounds is the gateway at the southern end of Castle Street, which leads into the northern tip of the site. From the Castle Street gate a drive, laid out around 1830, leads up along the east side of the mound to Castle House. The original approach was very steep, taking a straight rather than curving line. A pair of stone gate piers mark the approximate site of a former gatehouse.


There are also entrances from Moor Lane to the east, the west end of Eshton Terrace to the south, and the west end of Parson Lane to the west.


The Castle (listed grade I), which is also a scheduled ancient monument (scheduled ancient monument) was noted in the Domesday Book and consists of a small C12 square tower keep, built on a steep crag. The keep survives today (1990s) as four walls, open to the elements, the result of considerable restoration work carried out in 1848.

Immediately (5m) to the south of the Castle are the former stables and outbuildings (together listed grade II), and, adjoining these to the south, the Old Courthouse building (listed grade II), now the home of the North-West Sound Archive. Castle House (listed grade II) is situated 10m to the south-west of the Old Courthouse. It was built as a private residence and opened as a museum in 1981. Although much of the present fabric of these buildings is of mid C19 date, the stables, courthouse and house all appear on a ground plan of c 1723 (Best 1990), and their existence is confirmed by the mid C18 steward?s records (ibid).


To the east of the stable buildings is a levelled area, held by a retaining wall along its eastern side, currently (1990s) used as the park depot and storage area. At the southern end of this terrace is the site of the former castle chapel, the Chapel of St Michael, now occupied by a toilet block. Below is a second terrace, laid out as gardens round the War Memorial. Both garden terraces were in place by 1844 (1st edition OS map published 1844).

At the northern end of the range of buildings is the keep. A walkway runs along the top of the encircling wall which encloses a small garden area within. A flight of steps leads down the wooded north slope of the mound through patches of exposed rock, the path having been laid out pre 1844 (OS).

To the west, a walk put in as part of the original public park improvements leads round the grassy lower slopes of the mound to the lower areas of the park. At the southern end of these western slopes, within a hedged enclosure, is the bandstand, an arc of associated terraced seating rising from it. The present structure, of the mid 1970s, replaces the original park bandstand which was destroyed by fire.

The southern slope of the mound is laid out with ornamental grounds including a walk parallel to the south front of Castle House, which forms part of the mid C19 improvements to the grounds. This leads west to a formal rose garden, the centrepiece of which is a pinnacle from the Houses of Parliament (listed grade II), presented to the Borough of Clitheroe by the local MP in 1937 to commemorate the coronation of George VI. This scheme replaced a bowling green, formed on a garden terrace constructed in the mid C19, the green being part of the scheme of conversion of the site for public use. South of the rose garden is an area laid out as a putting green. To the west, below and to the south-west of Castle House, is a square, hedge-enclosed bowling green with a shelter at its southern end, roughly occupying the area developed in the mid C19 as a kitchen garden. South of the green lie tennis courts, both facilities being part of the park developments in the 1920s.

The south-western part of the park is left open as a recreation ground, with tree-lined walks along its western and southern sides. Prior to its development as a public park, this land to the south and south-west of the castle mount had comprised two large fields, which had been truncated on the western side by the construction of the Blackburn to Chatburn railway in 1846-50. By 1844 (OS), the Castle landscaping included a belt of trees along the eastern side of the fields, adjacent to Woone Lane, and also planting to screen the houses along the southern end of the Castle grounds.

At the northern end of the level ground is a second bowling green, added post 1930, while in the north-west corner an area is divided off as a children?s playground, also an addition to the original public park layout.


West of the Castle House is the site of the former kitchen gardens, enclosed by walls to south and west. The west wall carries a walk from which there are long views out to the west and south across the park to the countryside beyond the town.



Clitheroe Castle, A Guide, (D Best 1990)

R Kirkby, Notes on the site (Ribble Valley BC, June 1996)


Ground plan of the Castle, around 1723

OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition 1844; 2nd edition 1886; 3rd edition 1912; 1932 edition


Description written: February 1999

Edited: April 1999

Site designation(s)

The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens Grade II Reference GD 3036

The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building Grade I Reference The Castle

The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building Grade II Reference former stables and outbuildings

The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building Grade II Reference pinnacle from the House of Parliament

Scheduled Ancient Monument Grade No 4 Reference The Castle

Principal building:

Castle keep Created 1186

Designation status: The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building Grade I

Designation status: Scheduled Ancient Monument


Terrain: . The land falls steeply on all sides from the castle mound, down to level ground to the west and south, on which the grounds are laid out.

External web site link:

External web site link:


The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):


The land on which the Castle stands reverted to the Crown in 1322, Edward III later granting it to Queen Isabella. Following her death it remained as part of the Crown lands until granted by Charles II to General George Monck, first Duke of Albemarle (1608-70), in gratitude for his support. The land passed to Monck's son, Christopher, second Duke (1653-88) then, on his death, to his wife Elizabeth (died 1734). Elizabeth remarried to Ralph, first Duke of Montagu (1638-1709) in 1692, and on her death the Castle thus passed into the Montagu family, in whose ownership it remained for almost two hundred years. Until 1895 the Castle site was ex-parochial and lay outside the borough. It functioned as the administrative centre for the Blackburn Hundred until 1822 when the new town hall was built in Church Street.

The Castle site and grounds were purchased by public subscription by the then borough council from Lord Montagu of Beaulieu in November 1920, to form a memorial to the 260 soldiers from the town who lost their lives in the war. A total of £15,000 was raised, the balance from the purchase price of £9,500 being spent on the laying out of the park.

Ribble Valley Borough Council owns and manages the Castle and grounds as a museum and public park.

Site timeline

1920 to 1925: The castle mound and adjacent grounds are purchased by the borough council and laid out as memorial park to the war dead.


flower bed



Feature created: 2006

There is a turf labyrinth designed by Jim Buchanan.


Organisations associated with this site

Lancashire Gardens Trust

Historic England Role: Designating Authority

Sources of information

Historic England Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest

English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest, (Swindon: English Heritage, 2008) [on CD-ROM]


There are no images associated with this site