Originally a hunting lodge dating from the 11th century, Barden Tower itself was built to house the keepers and administrative officials of the ancient forest which once covered the whole of the area between Bolton Abbey and Appletreewick. As originally built, Barden Tower was much smaller than the present ruins would indicate, considerable enlargement having been carried out from time to time over the centuries. Its importance peaked in 1485 with the coming of Henry the 1Oth Lord Clifford - the 'Shepherd Lord'. Fostered out to Cumberland shepherds in his early years so as to escape the Wars of the Roses, Henry chose Barden as his main residence in preference to Skipton Castle, and enlarged the building to accommodate his retinue of some 60 servants. Upon his death in 1523 the estates passed to his son who was subsequently made Earl of Cumberland by King Henry VIII. Barden Tower now suffered a period of neglect which was not checked until its inheritance by the Countess of Pembroke, the redoubtable Lady Anne Clifford. When Lady Anne died in 1676 Barden Tower passed back into the Burlington family. It has since passed by marriage to the Cavendish family, Dukes of Devonshire. The lower buildings at the south east corner were the last occupied parts of the Tower, being inhabited until 1815, after which the Tower once again fell into disrepair with the removal of the roof. The former Priest's House, much of which dates from the fifteenth century stands adjacent to the Tower. Little changed since medieval days, the rooms are full of character and antiquity. The central room of the house, the Oak Room, carries resonances of the past which, along with its large collection of antiques and curios, provides a restful yet edifying experience which will not fade quickly from the memory.