York's Clifford's Tower to reopen after £5m renovation

One of England's most important historic buildings, Clifford's Tower*, which is managed by English Heritage*, is set to reopen on 2 April 2022 after a multi-million pound transformation.

Clifford's Tower, York - reopening on 2 April 2022 © English Heritage
Clifford's Tower, York - reopening on 2 April 2022 © English Heritage

The tower, which sits close to the heart of the ancient city of York* and dates in part from the 13th century when it was built for Henry III, is all that remains of York Castle.

The castle played a pivotal role as the seat of governmental power in the north until the 17th century.

Gutted by fire in 1684, the tower has remained empty with visitors mainly venturing up the grassy mound and to its top terrace for the views alone.

Now, the tower is better equipped to tell its centuries-old, fascinating, often gruesome, story while still offering those splendid city views.

Head Properties Curator at English Heritage, Jeremy Ashbee, said: "It wasn't a good visitor experience. The visitor numbers were high but the feedback was abysmal and no one ever came back. The people of York didn't like it and said so."

Chief architect Hugh Broughton said: "It has amazing views over York but people found themselves shuffling single-file round it and then back out of the tower. They were somewhat underwhelmed by the quality of their visit."

Broughton has addressed this by installing a free-standing timber structure* with walkways inside the tower that takes visitors to rooms that have been sealed for centuries.

Now, however, Ashbee says "The tower is one of those places that we can genuinely say is exceptional. It is undeniably a place of national as well as regional significance… It has an important story, which needs to be told properly."

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Posted on Tuesday 29 March 2022

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