A 14th century document called Historia Laceiorum attributed construction of the castle to Robert de Lacy (died 1193), the grandson of the first Robert de Lacy. Although it is generally accepted that he built the keep, it is thought that some form of fortification already existed at the site. It has been speculated that some form of wooden fortress may have existed here before the Norman conquest. A reference to the "castellatu Rogerii pictaviensis" in the Domesday Book entry for nearby Barnoldswick, has been used to argue that it was first built before 1086 by Roger the Poitevin. However others have countered that the passage more likely refers to Lancaster Castle. It is thought that there was a castle at Clitheroe in 1102, as Robert de Lacy granted lands formerly the property of Orme le Engleis, within the baillie and below, to Ralph le Rous. A charter from 1122 also mentions the castle's chapel. In the summer of 1138, a Scottish force under William fitz Duncan harried the area, defeating an English force at the battle of Clitheroe. Although the castle is not mentioned in the known accounts of the battle, it may have been the reason for the battle's location. New construction work was carried out in the late 12th century by Robert de Lacy (died 1193). This Robert died without an heir, and his lands passed to his cousin, and to on her grandson Roger, the constable of Chester. He changed his surname to de Lacy and his descendants would also be the Earls of Lincoln (from 1232). The castle was garrisoned due the rebellion of Richard I's bother John in the 1190s. During the early 14th century repairs were carried out to buildings within the castle and a new gate was built. When Henry de Lacy, 3rd Earl of Lincoln died in London in 1311, ownership of his properties passed to Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster who had been married to his daughter and heiress Alice. When Sir Adam Banastre led a rebellion against the earl in 1315, Clitheroe was amongst the castles raided for weapons. Lancaster's property escheated following his attainder and death in 1322, his brother Henry would later be granted his lands, with them subsequently becoming part of the Duchy of Lancaster.
In the 15th century, additional repairs were undertaken and a new chamber was built in 1425. During the Wars of the Roses, Edward IV ordered £200 be spent on repairs to the castle, but afterwards it seems to have fallen into disrepair. Duchy records for the honour, show that the castle had both a constable and a porter in the 1480s. A survey in 1602 described the castle as very ruinous, warning that buildings were very likely to fall down, with another in 1608, stating that parts of the decayed buildings had actually collapsed. In 1644, during the Civil War, Prince Rupert left a garrison at the castle on his way to relieve the parliamentarian siege of York. They repaired the main gateway and stocked the castle with provisions, only to abandon it following the royalist loss at the Battle of Marston Moor. When the Lancashire militia was ordered to disband in 1649, they refused, occupying the castle for a brief period in a dispute over unpaid wages. The same year Clitheroe was among a number of castles that parliament decided should be 'slighted' to prevent further use, although it is uncertain what demolition work actually resulted. In 1660 the castle and its honour were given as a reward to the first Duke of Albemarle by Charles II for helping him to regain the crown. From the late 17th century, the castle became the residence of the steward of the honour. Ownership of the castle subsequently passed down through the family to the Dukes of Buccleuch. A plan of the castle, dated 1723 is thought to have been created when a new house was built for the steward. However it seems that around this time much of the remaining curtain wall was demolished, with garden terraces created. The castle continued to operate as the administrative centre for Blackburnshire until 1822 when the town hall in Church Street was built. Today the buildings on the castle site form Clitheroe Castle Museum. The museum is based in the former Steward's House. The former courthouse, is now a temporary exhibition space called the Steward's Gallery. It's social history collection contains about 5,000 items, and the geology collection includes four type and figured specimens. It also has smaller collections of natural history, local art and period costume, and the archaeology collection includes items recovered from excavations on the site. All floors within the museum building are accessible by wheelchair, although some of the doorways cannot accommodate wider than average chairs. There is a lift between floors, ramps where appropriate and a screen providing a 360 degree view from the non-accessible castle keep. For visitors with visual impairment, there is the option of a one to one guided tour with one of the Museum Assistants. Also there numerous audio clips describing events, work conditions and historical descriptions of court cases.
Location : Castle St, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 1BA
Transport: Clitheroe (National Rail). Bus routes 4, 5, 14, 14A, 22, 231 and 280 stop nearby.
Opening Times: 16th Feb - 31st March Daily 12:00 to 16:00
Opening Times: 1st April - 2nd Nov. Daily 11:00 to 16:00
Tickets: Adults £4.10 Concessions £3.05 Children Free
Tel: 01200 424568