Mother Shipton’s Cave – Knaresborough’s Prophetess

Born during a wailing thunderstorm, Ursula Sontheil was set to take the World by storm! Raised in the cave that she was born in, Ursula Sontheil felt more at home in the cave then with any human company.

Knaresborough’s Prophetess

So when the Abbott of Beverley “took pity” on her mother and sent her to a nunnery, Ursula would return to the cave to practice herbology.

Of course, with this being 1488, under the reign of Henry VII, herbology was not yet discovered and Ursula was labeled a witch! Luckily she was not beheaded but was known as Knaresborough’s Prophetess and she made her living predicting the future. Duh!

Not all was doom and gloom with poor ole Ursula. She did manage to get married and so became Mother Shipton. Some of Mother Shipton’s premonitions include, but are not limited to,the fate’s of several rulers within and just after her lifetime. Mother Shipton also predicted the invention of scary iron ships, the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the defeat of the Spanish Armada. She even predicted the end of the world!

Petrified Woman Statue

A statue of a Petrified Woman found in Mother Shipton’s cave.

The mysterious Petrifying Well

The mysterious Petrifying Well, inside Mother Shipton’s cave,  is believed to be the only one of its kind. Objects get turned into stone due to its high mineral content. Many celebrities and TV Personalities have come to the well over the years to see this phenomena. Some have even donated objects to the Mother Shipton Museum for the amusement of others. Emmerdale, Coronation Street and Blue Peter have all made contributions. There is a hat worn by John Wayne and an Agatha Christie’s handbag. The most historic and valuable item is a shoe left by Queen Mary when she visited in 1923.

It is traditional for visitors to make a wish during their trip to the park. Many people’s wishes have reportedly come true! There are some important rules to follow when making a wish, so read them carefully. You can even buy bottles of wishing well water from the gift shop to take home as a souvenir.


Most people who visit Mother Shipton’s have already found somewhere to sleep, BUT if, like us, you like to do things on the fly, why not try these hotels in Knaresborough?

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