Historic Tadcaster

The ancient market town of Tadcaster has a long and chequered history.   Originally named Calcaria (place of limestone) by the Romans, it was initially a small settlement, serving as a resting place for travellers and a staging post on the London (Londinium) to York (Eboracum) road. The present bridge crossing the river was built around 1700 and was based on the first stone bridge built in 1200. 

The market in the town was initiated when Henry de Percy obtained a Charter from King Henry III in 1270, and was originally held at the junction of Kirkgate and Bridge Street - Market Place.

The town contains many historical and architectural treasures such as the 12th century St Mary's Church with its beautiful East window;  the 13th century motte and ditch of the Norman Castle, the Ark, originally built in the late 15th century and now the Tadcaster Town Council Offices, and many buildings from the Georgian and other eras.

Limestone has been quarried in the Tadcaster area for hundreds of years and used in many famous buildings, including a Roman Fort in York and York Minster.

The quality of the local water led to Tadcaster becoming a famous brewery town, with our beers and lagers drunk throughout the world.  The oldest of our three present breweries is Samuel Smiths, dating from 1758.   


The Battle of Tadcaster (7th December 1642), really little more than a skirmish, was fought around the Tadcaster river bridge in the Civil War.  

Three miles away, the Battle of Towton, on March 29th 1461 (Palm Sunday), was a decisive battle in the War of the Roses.  The Yorkist victory ended a period when England had two kings.  Over 28,000 people are believed to have been killed that day, the largest number of dead in any battle on British soil. 
Also a few miles away is the site of the Civil War Battle of Marston Moor, fought on 2nd July 1644, where Oliver Cromwell came to the fore as a military leader and helped crush the Royalist forces sent out from York to meet the Parliamentarians.

You can find more about Yorkshire battles here.


Archaeological Dig
Click here for the Motte and Bailey Archaeological Dig Report on the Tadcaster Riverbank
You can read a detailed history of Methodism in Tadcaster on the Methodist Church website.

The Ark, an historic Tadcaster building on Kirkgate
The Ark, a half-timbered building in Kirkgate, Tadcaster, was built in the late 15th Century, although it could be earlier. 

The building was a meeting place where the Pilgrim Fathers are reputed to have met to plan their voyage to America.  It has also been a post office, an inn, a butchers, a private house and a museum. 

It is called “The Ark” as the two carved corbel figures on the exterior are said to be Noah and his wife, but it was known as Morley Hall in the 17th Century.

In 1992, Tadcaster Town Council purchased the premises to use as its Council Offices and Council Chamber.