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Mother Shiptons Cave & Petrifying Well (Knaresborough)

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4 Reviews

Prophesy House, Knaresborough, N Yorkshire HG5 8DD, England
Phone: 01423 864600 Fax: 01423 868888.

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    4 Reviews
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      20.08.2013 16:22
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      Well worth a visit, although you're unlikely to return

      For those of you who have never heard of her, Mother Shipton is essentially the Yorkshire equivalent of Nostradamus. Like Nostradamus, she was a 16th Century prophet who wrote her predictions in verse, which had to be interpreted before they could be understood. Like Nostradamus, many of her prophecies (predicting the motor car, space travel and submarines) have come to pass; others remain shrouded in mystery. And, like all good prophets, she has also predicted when the world will end.

      I Predict This Paragraph Will Tell You About Mother Shipton
      ------------------------------------------------------------------
      Legend says that Mother Shipton was born out of wedlock to a mother who refused to name the father. To escape persecution, she fled to a cave in the woods, where locals feared to go, believing the woods to be cursed. There she gave birth and raised her daughter in a cave for two years. As she started to prophesy, her fame spread and people came from far and wide to learn the future from her, including Henry VIII who sent some of his counsellors to meet with her.

      Find The Path and You Will Find Yourself (at Mother Shipton's Cave)
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Mother Shipton's Cave and Petrifying Well sits on the very edge of the village of Knaresborough in North Yorkshire. There are two ways into the attraction: a main entrance which includes a car park, or a pedestrian only entrance at the opposite end of the attraction. We used the latter, although we actually missed it first time around because it's not all that obvious. The entrance sits right on the corner of the main road out of the village and really doesn't look like the entrance to a tourist attraction at all. In fact, it looks more like the entrance to a garage than a tourist attraction!

      A Fool and His Money Are Soon Parted
      ---------------------------------------------------
      The biggest downside to Mother Shipton's Cave is the cost. Admission at 2013 prices is £6 per adult, plus a further £2 parking fee if you approach via the drive-in entrance. This made the cost for Mrs SWSt and me £14, which is quite a lot for what we got. In fairness, the car parking charge is cheaper than you would pay in Knaresborough itself and you can always leave the car where it is once you've finished and pop into the village, which is handy.

      For that price you do get admission to two different attractions, the Petrifying Well and Mother Shipton's Cave, but whilst both are interesting, neither will detain you for more than about 45 minutes in total. Elsewhere, facilities are very limited. There is just one set of toilets in the whole attraction (at the drive-in entrance) a small, rather uninspiring museum (mainly containing items left in the Petrifying Well by famous people) and a very understocked gift shop that had nothing to tempt me. There was nowhere to buy refreshments either. There was a café but it was shut when we went and didn't look like it had been open for quite some time.

      We also got the feeling that visitors to the park are seen as little more open chequebooks, with staff trained to pressure people into giving more money. As we drove into the park, the man who took our entrance fee asked if we would like a guide book. We said "no thank you" and he asked if we had been there before. When we replied no, he sarcastically said "Good luck finding your way then". As a result, we decided perhaps we had better buy one.

      In fact, finding your way round is very easy. There's only one major path through the venue and everything is well signed posted, so it's virtually impossible to go wrong. This led us to the conclusion that the main was simply saying that in order to get us to buy a book.

      In fairness, it was actually quite a good book, packed with interesting information and easy and fun to read. It also only cost £1, so it didn't exactly break the bank. Still, when we realised we had effectively been lied to, it did leave a slightly sour taste in the mouth.

      The Gift of Foresight (well, two sites actually)
      --------------------------------------------------------
      As noted above, there are actually two attractions at the site (or three depending on how you count): the Petrifying Well - a rocky overhang down which drips water with such a high mineral content that it turns things to stone within 3-6 months, a wishing well (where, if you follow precise instructions, your wishes will come true) and Mother Shipton's Cave itself.

      These are all located together within a few hundred metres of each other and, in different ways, are all really interesting to look at, although in themselves, none of them will detain you for more than about 10 minutes. Each one is accompanied by either some well written information boards (although the writers had real problems with apostrophes) or an audio track that tells the story of that particular part. The audio tour in particular is well-written and nicely narrated. There's the option to listen to the adult version (which contains more facts and figures) or a children's version ("narrated" by Mother Shipton herself). Each lasts for about 5 minutes (the cave one is slightly longer) and manages to give a lot of information without making the visitor read lots and lots of text.

      After you've seen each of these three, you do rather feel like you're at a bit of a loose end. You'll only have spent around 30-45 minutes at the attraction, but will feel you should spend longer there to get your money's worth. The trouble is, there's not really anything more for you to do (although you can go for a walk through the woodlands) so you find yourself heading for the exit by default, feeling somehow a little short-changed, even though you have enjoyed what you have seen.

      Accessibility
      -----------------
      Whether you approach the attraction from the pedestrian entrance or the car entrance, you have to walk to the cave and the well. It's not particularly long (around a quarter of a mile) and uses well-defined woodland paths so it should be possible to get pushchairs, wheelchairs or mobility scooters along it. However, there are half a dozen or so steps leading down to the well and the cave itself. Again, these are not particularly steep or tricky, but you do need to have at least some mobility to get down them.

      Judgement Day
      -------------------
      According to someone we spoke to, Mother Shipton's Cave was recently voted "worst tourist destination" in Yorkshire, which I think is a little harsh. Yes, it's rather expensive with few facilities and it won't detain you for very long; yes, the welcome we got was a touch unfriendly but we enjoyed our visit overall. It's not somewhere we are ever likely to return to, but neither do we regret going. If you're in the area and have an hour to kill, it's interesting enough.

      Basic Information
      Mother Shipton's Cave
      Prophecy Lodge, High Bridge
      Knaresborough
      North Yorkshire
      HG5 8DD


      (c) Copyright SWSt 2013

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        04.06.2010 18:58
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        a very intersting and enjoyable little attraction

        Located in the rather picturesque town of Knaresbrough, Mother Shipton's Cave is an interesting place that is also Britain's oldest tourist attraction,having been originally opened to the public as a tourist attraction back in 1630, with people coming from miles around to bathe in the waters of the petrifying well, known back then as the dripping well and then the dropping well. The petrifying well looks like a tricklng waterfall really, whereby water from deep underground is pushed out to the surface from a nearby spring, soaking up vast quantities of certain minerals and sending the water tumbling down a mini cliff-face into a pool beneath. The minerals involved lead to the petrification of any objects underneath, and the place thus developed a sinister reputation on account of the presence of leaves and animal skeletons apparently turned to stone. This reputation meant that the place provided a banished, heavily-pregnant 15 year old girl with sanctuary when she took refuge there hundreds of years ago to give birth, seeking shelter and water there and giving birth to a child that would grow up to be the hunched, grotesque, figure known as the supposedly clairvoyant Mother Shipton, portrayed in lore as a stereotypical witch/ Nordic seeress.

        Since vicotiran times at least, objects have been hung from the bottom of the petrifying well to give them the appeareance of turning to stone. Teddy Bears, a victorian top hat and bonnet, a cricket bat, frying pan and other oddities hang there now, whilst inside the little museum other solidified articles are displayed: a hat belonging to John Wayne; a shoe belonging to a princess from the 20s; a victorian umbrella; one of Seth from Emmerdale's socks and so on.

        There is also a wishing well: a little natural pool of running water in the side of a cliff, as well as the cave in whihc mother shiptone was born, in which her grotesque figure stands in the shadows at the back of the cave. The petrifying well and cave both have audio-tour points activated by pressing a button, and these are interesting, not too long and very informative. There is also a pleasant walk alongside the river amongst some unbelievably tall Beech Trees dating back over 2 centuries, and the aforementioned musuem also contains some rather gruesome waxworks of heads on spikes (3 nobles who went to see Mother SHipton and, as she supposedly predicted, later ended up with their heads on pikes in York), as well as some other local historical figures- 'Blind Jack', who despite losing his sight to smallpox aged 6 went on to achieve much and shape the future of the town, as well as another rogue who was executed for murder and is seen here tied up and left to die inside a gibbett, moaning deleriously for help as a cawing crow pecks at his eyes.

        There is also a cafe that sells drinks and sandwiches at surprisingly reasonable prices, as well as Mother Shipton's Inn, although I didnt visit that. There is also a mini adventure playground for kids, and the river walkis overseen by the beautiful stone viaduct as well as Knaresbrough Castle. It costs £6 for adults and about £4 for kids, and though there is only a few hours entertianment to be had it is a very interesting and rather novel experience, and it was refreshing to discover that it was not at all tacky, which it could so easily have been. That said, the stories of mother shipton should be taken with a pinch of salt, given that they relie on old records no doubt embellished in the interests of pathos. All the same, the place is well worth a look.

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        18.07.2001 18:45
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        Many moons ago I worked at Mother Shiptons Cave as a summer job, doing everything from giving guided tours, to cleaning the loos! In this review, I will tell you about the park, some of the history, and my opinion of it! The Park --------- In ther park there are several attractions. First (and most obviously!) is Mother Shiptons cave. This is not a deep cave, more an opening in the rock. Its not somewhere you need a lamp to see into! This is supposedly the place where mother shipton was born, and lived. Next to the cave is the wishing well. This is a natural spring, with a pool sunk into the rock. People put in their hand (and sometimes money) and make a wish. Next to the wishing well is the petrifying well. This is a waterfall, where the water contains large amounts of disolved limestone. As the water flows over the waterfall, the limestone comes out of solution, and will cause any porous objects to form stone. Pieces of clothing, teddies, and similar objects are usually hung underneath the waterfall, to be petrified. They are then sold in the shop at mother shiptons. In order that the rock doesn't get any bigger, it has to be regularly cleaned -- a wet and unpleasant job! A visit to the park will allow you to have a guided tour of the wells and the cave, which will include the description of the life of mother shipton, and the process of petrification. There is much more to the park than this though! There is the famous 'Long Walk' -- originally planted by one of the Slingsbys -- local rich family. This is basically a woodland walk along the side of the river. You will see squirrels, birds, ducks and so on. It really is a very pleasant walk. Also, there is a small museum, which includes a potted history of Knaresborough. Finally, included in your ticket price is car parking all day. This is quite a good deal, as you can easily walk into the rest of Knaresboro
        ugh from mother shiptons. The history ----------- As I have said, the long walk was planted by one of the Slingsbys, and is a very pleasant walk. The park itself used to be part of the forest of Knaresborough -- a very popular hunting forest, the favourite of King John. The story of Mother Shipton is that she was born, probably a bastard, in the cave. She made her living by making prophesies, including prophesying her own death. Many of the prophesies which are around now (iron upon water shall float, as easy as a wooden boat; around the world thoughts will fly in the twinkling of an eye; carriages without horses will go;) were infact a Victorian fabrication, made after inventions which fullfilled these prophesies (ships, telegraph, and steam trains). Whether Mother Shipton really existed, or lived in the cave, has not been convincingly shown. However, it is likely that the area around the petrifying well, where dead animals would be found turned to stone, would have been thought cursed to medieval people. My opinion ----------- Is a trip to Mother Shiptons worth it? Well, yes, I think it probably is. Although there is not a lot to see, it is a nice place. The walk is nice (though not as long as you would think from the name!), the cave is a disappointment, the well is quite good though. It makes quite a good base from which to explore Knaresborough. Unfortunately, prices have been going up recently, and it has been expensive to visit the cave. This may change though, as the park has just been sold. What the new owner will do is not yet known. One caveat -- the park is not suitable for people in wheelchairs. The cave and well are only accessible by steps.

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          16.06.2001 05:45
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          Mother Shiptons Cave and Petrifying Well is situated in a beautiful wooded park at Knaresborough in North Yorkshire. There is a play area for children, plenty of easy parking, cafe, gift shop and museum of Knaresborough life. The Cave and Well are about a half mile walk through the woods. (These woods are over 230 years old). Mother Shipton was born in 1488 in this cave, according to legend. She is credited with predicting the Great Fire of London, horseless carriages, and perhaps the internet (thoughts that go round the earth in the twinkling of an eye). There are lots more predictions too which are made in verse and available in a booklet which can be purchased on-line or from the gift shop. Part of this is available to read on the website, if you take a virtual tour you will come to it. www.mothershipton.co.uk The petrifying well is an amazing sight. There are items hung round it that turn to stone. This is something to do with the mineral content of the water. For more than 300 years people have been hanging things in this 'magic' well. While you are there you might catch a glimpse of my little brown teddy bear (aw, poor teddy, but at least he won't get eaten by moths!) When you have seen the well and been into the cave, don't forget the Wishing Well. It is supposed to have an excellent recoed of positive results. Go on, give it a try, you never know. If you go to the site you will be able to get a free ticket and all the information about opening times is there too. There's an email address and phone number if you need any more information than is available on the site. This is a great day out and made much more enjoyable if you know something of the history of the place.

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