North Yorkshire's Barden Tower near Bolton Abbey shines in the sun - Picture Post

Picture: Bruce Rollinson. Words: John Blow.

Barden Tower bathed in summer evening sunlight on July 20 2021. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Barden Tower bathed in summer evening sunlight on July 20 2021. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

It may have been “in decline” since the late 18th century, but North Yorkshire’s Barden Tower is a ruin that never fails to impress – especially when doused in the summer sun.

But its storied history is just as notable.

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Lying between Bolton Abbey and Burnsall, the land was granted to Robert de Romille after the Norman Conquest.

It was one of six hunting lodges and became the principal seat of administration for Barden hunting forest. It was not long before the Tower became a miniature castle, capable of defending itself against enemies including the Scots and an outpost for chasing poachers.

In 1310 Barden and all the surrounding lands came into the possession of the Clifford family – staunch Lancastrians who became the enemy of the Yorkist kings.

When Henry Clifford was killed in battle in 1461, his seven year old son, also called Henry, was sent into exile and spent the next 25 years learning to tend sheep on a farm in the East Riding.

With the death of King Richard III, the last of the Yorkist kings, at the battle of Bosworth, the Clifford family were able to come out of hiding and Henry, affectionately known as the Shepherd Lord, returned to North Yorkshire.

In 1515 he built the Priest House next to the chapel.

Along with the Canons of Bolton Priory, he also had a keen interest in astronomy which led to the upstairs dining room being named the ‘Stargazers Room’.

Henry eventually became more reclusive, although he was known for holding regular feasts for the locals in the Great Hall.

Lady Anne Clifford had a 40-year battle against her uncle and cousin for her right to inherit her father George’s estates, and devoted herself to restoring and enhancing the castles and churches.

She restored Barden Tower in 1659, though it did not actually belong to her, and after her death was returned to the rightful owners, the Earls of Cork.

The building fell into decline in the late 18th century, according to Bolton Abbey, which now owns the site.

Technical Details: Nikon D6, 24-70mm Nikkor lens, 1/125th of a second at f9, ISO 125.