The Castle Inn is a grade II English Heritage listed building dating back to the early 1800s. As coaching house, it provided shelter and nourishment for the many visitors to the town’s ancient agricultural market. The original stables still exist today to the rear of the inn. On Sunday 19th June 1853, lightning struck Holy Trinity church causing the west pinnacle (estimated at 1½ tons) to fall with a tremendous crash. One large piece narrowly missed The Castle Inn and broke part of the causeway. The incident occurred towards the end of the morning service and a contemporary account tells of the congregation being so alarmed that they rushed out of the church without their hats!
The Castle Inn gets a mention in the 1862 diary of Richard Ryley – a weaver living in Barnoldswick. Richard Ryley was a musician and describes several “playing excursions”. This informal ‘busking’ born out of deprivation was a novelty to Richard and his friends. The entry for May 12th records “No work. Went with four others on a playing excursion through Thornton to Broughton Hall, where, after playing 3 tunes we got 2s. 6d. On our way to Skipton we got wet to the skin; on our arrival we went to the Castle Inn where we each got a bowl of good warm broth, but the landlady knowing our circumstances would have nothing in return.”
In the 1950s the Inn played host to Skipton Jazz Club – held upstairs and started by Ivan Wright. The Inn even had it’s own band called The Castle Inn band. A member of the band recalls the bass player – who travelled to Skipton from Shipley on the bus – having to by a ticket for his bass as well as himself.
During the second world war, The War Agriculture Executive Committee – based just behind The Castle Inn – organised the Women’s Land Army.
If you have any memories of The Castle Inn, we’d love to hear them.
Despite a large growth in population over the last century, Skipton now has many fewer pubs than in previous times. The town’s agricultural market – held on the High Street until 1906 – attracted farmers, dealers and drovers from far and wide. As such, the many visitors brought in plenty of trade for inns and taverns offering food, ale and shelter. There are very few buildings on the High Street that haven’t had an association with the licence trade at some point. And the lack of a licence didn’t stop folk enjoying a drink. Way back in 1638, 19 Skiptonians were charged with keeping a common alehouse without a Justices’ licence.