CLIFFORD'S TOWER, YORK

NORTH YORKSHIRE

There has been a tower on this site since the 11th Century. William I constructed the first tower shortly after his conquest of England – that was made of timber and is the catalyst to one of the regions most harrowing supernatural events. At certain times, the now stone walls of Clifford’s Tower appear to run red with blood.

In 1190 the Jewish community in major cities across the UK had grown significantly. Dissatisfaction from Christian groups in York, Norwich and Lincoln began to escalate, but the intolerance of the people of York went several steps further. Riots, led by Richard Malebisse and an unknown Friar, spread through the city with the aim of purging York of all Jews.

As the violence grew, many Jews left their homes to gather in Clifford’s Tower, their aim to barricade themselves in and take refuge. The timber structure may have slowed the advance of swords and axes but it could do little to protect its guests from the flaming torches. As an inferno tore through the tower many of the trapped occupants opted for suicide rather than a slow, agonising death. Those that did escape the flames were massacred by the blood-crazed mob. It is estimated that on that day, 150 people perished in the tower.

The fire razed the tower to the ground and once the ash cleared, a new tower was built – the one you see today.

Shortly after its construction, a red liquid would frequently run down the walls of the tower. The citizens of York believed that the barbaric injustice they had inflicted on the Jews had come back to haunt them. The blood of the Jews would be a constant reminder of the town’s brutality and shameful persecution.

Recent scientific tests have confirmed that the red stains are caused by iron oxide in the stone that was mined from nearby Tadcaster. The twist in the tale is that no other stone taken from that quarry has contained a single trace of iron oxide.

If you visit the tower in spring, you will see its steep banks awash with six-petal daffodils, which represent the Star of David - a tribute to those that sought sanctuary in the tower’s walls, but received none.

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