It was customary to provide a home for a Dowager to retire to when her eldest son succeeded as head of the family. Sir Thomas Slingsby of Scriven Hall built the Dower House of Knaresborough in the 15th Century. Sir Henry Slingsby, a prominent Royalist during the Civil War, was executed in in 1658 being the last person to have his head exhibited on Micklegate Bar in York.
Slingsby was an old and well-known Yorkshire family and a great land owner in the north of England. The family’s chapel in St John’s Parish Church preserves tangible evidence of the family in its remarkable tombs with effigies and inscriptions.