Tadcaster is a market town and civil parish in the Selby district of North Yorkshire, England. Lying on the Great North Road approximately 15 miles (24 km) east of Leeds and 10 miles (16 km) west of York. It is the last town on the River Wharfe before it joins the River Ouse about 10 miles (16 km) downstream. It is part of the shire county of North Yorkshire, despite being further south than York, the traditional centre of Yorkshire and thus historically in the West Riding.
For local government purposes, the River Wharfe divides the town into eastern and western electoral wards. The combined population of Tadcaster East and Tadcaster West in 2004 was 7,280, 3,800 in Tadcaster East and 3,480 in Tadcaster West (source: Office of National Statistics). The local authority is Selby District Council.
Tadcaster gave its name to a much larger rural district council, Tadcaster Rural District and other administrative areas. This may lead to confusion when comparing the size and extent of the current town with information for earlier periods. For example the population in 1911 of the Tadcaster sub-district was 6831 compared with that of the Tadcaster Registration District, 32052 (source: A Vision of Britain through time).
The town is twinned with Saint Chély d'Apcher in France.
The suffix of the Anglo-Saxon name Tadcaster is derived from the borrowed Latin word castrameaning 'fort', although the Saxons used it for any walled Roman settlement. Tadcaster is mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as the place were King Harold assembled his army and fleet prior to entry into York and subsequently on to the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066.
In the 11th century William de Percy established Tadcaster Castle, a motte-and-bailey fortress, near the present town centre using stone reclaimed from Roman rubble. The castle was abandoned in the early 12th century, and though briefly re-fortified with cannon emplacements during the Civil War, all that remains is the castle motte. The outline of the long demolished southern bailey still impacts the geography of surrounding streets.
The town is mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book as Tatecastre. The record reads: Two Manors. In Tatecastre, Dunstan and Turchil had eight carucates of land for geld, where four ploughs may be. Now, William de Parci has three ploughs and 19 villanes and 11 bordars having four ploughs, and two mills of ten shillings (annual value). Sixteen acres of meadow are there. The whole manors, five quaranteens in length, and five in breadth. In King Edward's time they were worth forty shillings; now one hundred shillings.
The original river crossing was probably a simple ford near the present site of St Mary's Church, soon followed by a wooden bridge. Around 1240, the first stone bridge was constructed close by, possibly from stone once again reclaimed from the castle.
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