English Heritage: North Yorkshire sites saw record numbers in 2022

English Heritage membership hit its highest level last year at almost 1.2 million people, and many of its attractions saw record numbers of visitors, including a number of sites in North Yorkshire.

Clifford’s Tower had its best year yet in 2022, and saw its visitor numbers go up by 31 per cent on 2019, following its reopening after a major revamp.

The 800-year old York landmark reopened in April 2022 following a two-year closure to complete a £5 million conservation project.

York Press: Clifford's TowerClifford’s Tower (Image: English Heritage)

Rooms and walkways that had been closed for centuries are now open to the public, and a new roof deck offers visitors panoramic views of the city.

The tower is the largest remaining part of York Castle and has a rich history, having once been a royal mint, a medieval stronghold, a Civil War garrison, and the centre of government in northern England.

Whitby Abbey had its “best year ever” last year which saw its visitors increase by 25 per cent on 2021.

York Press: Whitby AbbeyWhitby Abbey (Image: English Heritage)

In Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, Dracula, which marked its 125th anniversary last year, the abbey is where infamous vampire Count Dracula is believed to have come ashore, and it is referenced in the diary entries of female protagonist, Mina Harker.

In May 2022, Whitby Abbey broke the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest gathering of people dressed as vampires – 1,369 blood-suckers – beating the previous record set in 2011 when 1,039 people gathered at theme park Kings Dominion in Virginia, USA.

York Press: Queues for Clifford's Tower when it reopened last yearQueues for Clifford’s Tower when it reopened last year (Image: Newsquest)

Kate Mavor, chief executive of English Heritage, said: “Last year was a year of recovery for English Heritage, with domestic tourism once again picking up to pre-pandemic levels and, in many cases, exceeding it.

“Many of our most recognisable attractions enjoyed their best-ever years in 2022, which is a clear indication that homegrown tourism is flourishing once again in areas such as Yorkshire.

“However, it is notable that many of our smaller sites, situated away from traditional tourist destinations, have also reported record years.”

York Press: Mount Grace Priory House and GardensMount Grace Priory House and Gardens (Image: English Heritage)

Mount Grace Priory, the best preserved Carthusian monastery in England, in Northallerton, saw its visitor numbers soar by 47 per cent on 2021.

It was originally the home to hermitic monks in the Middle Ages, who each lived in one of the 25 cells, before coming into the hands of wealthy owners.

The Aldborough Roman Site, the capital of the Romanised Brigantes, the largest tribe during the British Roman period, had its best year since 1999 last year, with visitors increasing by 30 per cent.

York Press: Grounds of Pickering CastleGrounds of Pickering Castle (Image: David Harrison)

Pickering Castle and Richmond Castle saw their visitor numbers rise by 18 and 16 per cent respectively, and both had their best years since 1997.

Pickering Castle, which dates back to the 13th century, was used as a royal hunting lodge, holiday home and stud farm by a succession of medieval kings.

Richmond Castle, one of the most complete 11th century fortresses in England, has a history that spans from the Norman Conquest to the First World War.

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