Cawood Castle

Cawood, North Yorkshire


The late medieval rooms in this gatehouse are all that survive of Cawood Castle, once a residence of the Archbishops of York. Here Cardinal Wolsey was dramatically arrested for treason on Henry VIII’s orders.

  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • CotCot
  • Bed in Living RoomBed in Living Room
  • Mobile signalMobile signal
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • BathBath

Beds 1 Twin, 1 Double

2 +2
4 nights
£1140 equivalent to £71.25 per person, per night

A long-standing religious affiliation

The gatehouse and its domestic wing are all that is left of Cawood Castle, once upon a time a stronghold of the Archbishops of York. The castle itself has always had significant royal links as well as its strong connection to the church. It was Archbishop John Kempe who built the adjoining gatehouse using the distinctive creamy white stone from a nearby quarry at Huddleston. The civil war saw it change hands several times before it ended up in the hands of the royalists and ultimately Parliament. Along with 7 other castles in the North, Parliament decided that it should be slighted or made untenable with most of the castle being demolished.

The centre of the Vale of York

The gatehouse is attached to the magnificent former great hall (now empty) and overlooks open ground in the centre of Cawood. Stairs from the second floor lead up to the flat roof which offers lovely panoramic views of the surrounding Yorkshire countryside. The nearest town is Cawood, a historic market town with a bridge over the River Ouse. Right in the middle of the Vale of York, guests staying at Cawood Castle benefit from its relative seclusion whilst never being more than 15 miles away from Selby, York and Leeds and all they have to offer.


Floor Plan


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Map & local info

Cawood Castle has views across the Vale of York from the roof terrace and overlooks the centre of the small, historic town of Cawood, a former market town with a bridge over the River Ouse.

The wonderful city of York is about half an hour from Cawood by car. Here, you can wander through the The Shambles to admire the impressive Minster and visit the Castle Museum, the Jorvik Viking Centre and the National Railway Museum. These are just some of the many attractions in the city to keep everyone entertained.

Travel beyond York to reach Castle Howard, claimed to be Yorkshire's finest stately home, and the Howardian Hills, a spectacular area of outstanding natural beauty.

The city of Leeds is worth a visit to see the Royal Armouries and Temple Newsam, a Tudor-Jacobean house with beautiful grounds landscaped by Capability Brown. Roundhay Park and the Rodley Nature Reserve are lovely places for walks and to enjoy lots of outdoor activities. Close by is Lotherton Hall (11.2 miles).

Discover local walks for dogs with our friends at, the dog walks community. For more information on things to do during your stay at Cawood Castle, please see our Pinterest page.

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

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Essential info
What you need to know about this building
  • Yes. You are welcome to bring up to two dogs. A charge of £20 per stay is made for each dog. Please contact booking enquiries if you have an assistance dog, for which there is no charge.
  • Directly from the main road.
  • Selby – 4 miles
  • Yes there are two car parking spaces adjacent to the property.
  • There are electric night storage heaters and a wood-burning stove.
  • Unfortunately, there is currently no arrangement for the purchase and delivery of logs, however details of local sources will be provided with your order confirmation.
  • To check up-to-date mobile network coverage in the area, visit* Due to the location and structure of many of our buildings, signal strength may differ to those indicated.
  • The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also an electric cooker.
  • There is one bathroom with a bath. There is an additional wc.
  • There is an extremely steep, narrow, spiral staircase. There are stairs between the bedrooms and bathrooms on each floor.
  • There is a small garden (not enclosed).
  • Yes, the twin bedroom and bathroom are hard to heat in winter.
  • Yes,  but we would ask that care is taken in inclement weather and that children and dogs are supervised when on the roof.
  • No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being. Except at Llwyn Celyn Bunk House where a password is available in the property when you arrive.
Booking and Payment
  • If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • The key arrangements will be included in the Further Infomation document which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • If your stay starts more than two months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy and The Bunk House at Llwyn Celyn must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • Our housekeeper will leave the key in a suitable place, the details of which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
Staying at a Landmark
  • Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.  Further information on access when visiting Lundy can also be found here.
  • Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control. A charge of £20 per stay is made for each dog. Please contact booking enquiries if a registered assistance dog is supporting one of the guests, for which there is no charge.
  • Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Arrival is from 4pm and departure is by 10am.
  • We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visiting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).
  • Landmark’s electrical systems have not been designed to provide continuous power from one socket over several hours.  If an ordinary socket is used to charge an electric vehicle, there is significant risk of an electrical fire and consequent danger to life.  Therefore, we are unable to allow electric vehicle charging from most of our Landmarks at present.

    We are working to provide Type 2 Electric Vehicle charge points at our properties where there is private parking.  Where this is available, please request this facility when booking the property to ensure the outlet is enabled on your arrival.  There is a small charge to cover the cost of electricity provided.  Please book this facility in advance.
  • No, we do not allow smoking in any Landmark.
  • Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival. Except for the Llwyn Celyn Bunkhouse.
  • Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
    Except at Llwyn Celyn Bunk House where a password is available in the property when you arrive.
  • A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide toilet rolls and a bar of soap per basin, but no other toiletries. Hairdryers are provided.

Once the principal palace of the Archbishops of York

This Gatehouse, with a domestic wing to one side of it, is all that remains of Cawood Castle, the principal palace of the Archbishops of York from the 13th century, 200 years before the Gatehouse was built, until 1646 when the castle’s destruction was ordered by Parliament during the Civil War. The flat landscape seems an unlikely site for a fortified building, but this was an important cross-roads with a ferry over the Ouse on the road to York and a road running east-west along the riverbank.

The Castle has always had important royal as well as episcopal connections. Henry III, Edward I and his wife Margaret, Edward II and his wife Isabella, have all stayed here, the last on his way to disastrous defeat at the hands of the Scots led by Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn.

It was Archbishop John Kempe who built the Gatehouse, using the creamy-white stone from a quarry at Huddleston, owned by the Cathedral. The son of a Kentish gentleman, Kempe rose swiftly through political and religious ranks. Henry VI declared him to be "one of the wisest lords in the land". He rose to be Bishop of Rochester, then Chichester, London, and then Archbishop of York in 1425. He was proud of becoming a cardinal in 1439 and the Cardinal’s hat appears on several of the finely-carved stone shields over the archway. It is likely that he also built the range to the east as it is bonded in with the Gatehouse.

Cawood Castle was by now more palace than castle. Kempe’s successor, Archbishop George Neville celebrated his installation in grand style. John Leland described in every sumptuous detail the feast he threw. Provisions included 400 swans, 104 oxen, 2000 pigs and 4000 venison pasties! It was one of the most famous of all medieval feasts.

Thomas Wolsey became Archbishop of York in 1514, but never came to Cawood until 1530, when he had fallen from power and had to surrender all his offices except York. It was here that he was arrested by the Earl of Northumberland and turned back to the South where he died soon after.

Henry VIII stayed here for two days with his wife Catherine Howard. In her retinue was her lover, Thomas Culpeper who later caused her to be beheaded. Further royal intrigue occurred here in 1568 when the "Rising in the North" first plotted to bring back the Catholic religion and to replace Queen Elizabeth with Mary Queen of Scots. It ended with the execution of the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland and 400 of their followers at York.

During the Civil War, Cawood changed hands three times. The original garrison of Royalist troops mostly deserted when faced by 600 foot and cavalry soldiers in October 1642. But by June 1643 it had been recaptured by the Royalists, who held in for one year when it was retaken by Sir John Meldon for Parliament. At the end of the war. Parliament decided that Cawood, together with 7 other castles in the north should be "slighted" or made untenable. Most of the castle was demolished including the crenelated parapet on the Gatehouse.

The Gatehouse continued in use by the Archbishops of York as a local or ‘leet’ court, and towards the end of the 18th century, the second staircase was built to enable the judge to enter the court room by a different stair from the prisoners. In 1932, the courtroom was turned into a sitting room and during the Second World war it was used as an Officers’ Mess and also by the Home Guard. More recently it contained a full-sized billiard table, which was still there when the Landmark Trust finally acquired the Gatehouse in 1985. 

For a short history of Cawood Castle please click here.

To read the full history album for Cawood Castle please click here.


The gatehouse survived the castle's demolition

Surprisingly, the Gatehouse survived the demolition of Cawood following the Civil War relatively unscathed. The only serious change which had occurred in the 550 years since it was built was to the roof line. The crenelated parapet had been removed and a pitched roof had been substituted for the original flat one. Happily, a small part of the original parapet still existed and so it was possible to replace it exactly. This was done using a similar magnesium limestone from Cadeby, near Doncaster.

The Welsh slate roof was removed and the Gatehouse given a flat one once more, although this time of York stone laid over concrete rather than lead as the original would have been. The original stone springers of the medieval roof vault to the spiral staircase still existed and so the internal dome was re-formed using oak ribs. The oak roof was repaired and given a new lead covering, with a wheat sheaf crowning the turret as a tribute to Archbishop Kempe on whose armorial bearings it appears. Half of the original timber gate was lying below the arch and this has now been mended and the repaired gate replaced.

Inside, the problem was how to obtain a kitchen, bathroom and cloakroom with the minimum of alteration. In the end, our neighbour allowed us to truncate his house by some five feet to make a cloakroom and kitchen on the first floor, and a mezzanine bathroom between first and second floors. The kitchen is lit by a new inconspicuous window made in the south wall.

The ceiling of the sitting room is new as the old one had fallen in. A hard cement render on the walls was removed and redone with lime plaster and limewash. The original lime ash floor had virtually disappeared, and so the remaining patch was covered and the whole repaved with Cadeby stone with slate inserts. Concrete that had been put down in the bay of the north window was left for fear of damaging the cantilevered structure. The bedroom had its floor replaced and a later floor which cut across the windows was removed. The tracery and glazing were restored here as it has been elsewhere.

Outside, the contemporary range east of the Gatehouse was in use as a barn. The north side was blocked by undistinguished farm buildings which we demolished to reveal the medieval construction. A wide opening for farm vehicles that had been knocked through between the third and fourth buttress was blocked up and its window restored. On the south side, three windows that had been blocked up were reopened, and the fifth buttress put back as it had been removed when a farm building was placed against the wall. The whole of the roof was retiled and some of the timber structure repaired. Finally, the brick wall that ran along the side of the pavement was removed to improve the view from the street.

Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.