UNTIL WE CAN WALK THEM TOGETHER, ENJOY MY PHOTOGRAPHIC TOURS OF SANDAL CASTLE & THE BATTLE OF WAKEFIELD, PONTEFRACT CASTLE, THE WAKEFIELD TO TOWTON CAMPAIGN, BATTLE OF TOWTON SITES AROUND SAXTON VILLAGE, & THE BATTLEFIELD OF TOWTON!
Pontefract Castle, one of many historical sites I can bring to life for you
Guiding on Towton Battlefield Trail with my husband, Michael Doggett
COVID-19: I’m taking provisional bookings for Wakefield and Towton walks again, (no deposit required), in the hope that they can go ahead for small, socially-distanced groups. Last-minute changes of plan or cancellations due to Covid will incur no penalty. Meanwhile whet your appetite with a virtual visit to the castles of Sandal and Pontefract, Edward IV’s campaign trail from Wakefield to Towton, and the battlefields of Wakefield and Towton!
NEW VIRTUAL TOUR: SANDAL CASTLE AS YOU MAY NOT HAVE SEEN IT BEFORE!
Ready for a nature walk round our recently re-wilded Wars of the Roses ruin Sandal Castle as we used to see it: traditionally ‘tidy’ and well-mown… …but now a softly overgrown oasis for wildlife! L – R: the recently-stabilised remains of the Presence Chamber and Great Hall, with motte and remains of barbican in background A beautiful contrast between mown and unmown Our high summer nature walk started off with a circuit of the moat Gatehouse footings Ragwort – favourite of the diurnal cinnabar moth – and a small variety of bindweed on gatehouse masonry This thick grass was alive with the chirping of crickets and grasshoppers Lots of thistles, too – the bees love them! Brambles, nettles and briar rose abound And plenty of seed heads to feed the birds… The spectacle we came specifically to see: the mauve glory of rosebay willowherb in full bloom The motte may well have looked like this in Richard of York’s day, covered in scrubby bushes – and full of bird life View from the top! Remains of the barbican and gate towers. The parched grass shows where vanished walls of the building range used to be Location of the 1460 battlefield: on the plain ground between the castle and city of Wakefield, a mile to the north View to the south, site of the vanished deer-park
Walk Wakefield 1460:
From Richard, Duke of York’s home at Sandal Castle to the site of his death in battle nearby on Manygates Lane, and (if required) on to St Mary’s bridge chapel where his son Edmund, Earl of Rutland, is believed to have died at the hands of John ‘the Butcher’, Lord Clifford of Craven.
Availability: weekend days/evenings year-round; weekdays by special arrangement
Fees: £35 inclusive for 1 – 7 people, £5 per head for groups of 8 or more
St Mary’s chantry chapel, Wakefield
Complete your Wakefield tour with a visit to the brooding ruin of Pontefract’s once-mighty fortress, where Richard of York’s brother-in-law the Earl of Salisbury was executed the day after the battle, and the nearby All Saints church, where York and Rutland’s decapitated bodies were interred until their reburial at Fotheringhay by Edward IV.
Availability: weekend days/evenings year-round; weekdays by special arrangement
Fees: £40 inclusive for 1 – 8 people, £5 per head for groups of 9 or more
Pontefract’s Church of All Saints
Enjoy a Virtual Visit:
Sandal Castle & the Battle of Wakefield
Battle of Wakefield 1460 Medieval Sandal Castle Sandal Castle today From the former deer-park The motte Motte & dry moat Gatehouse foundations Gatehouse Inner bailey Constable’s lodging Curtain wall foundations Well & garderobe Great Hall undercroft Presence Chamber Kitchen range oven The barbican, a self-contained D-shaped fort defending access to the keep, viewed from the top of the motte Barbican foundations Barbican, drum towers & sally-port Standing remains Battlefield diagram Savile household archer Castle Grove Park battlefield remnant York’s monument Richard, Duke of York Monumwnt inscription Site of Rutland’s fall – St Mary’s chantry chapel Re-enacting the death of Rutland St Mary’s interior Military finds from Sandal Castle including Wakefield spear & arrowheadscludin Clump of arrowheads from Sandal Castle General finds Sandal under snow Battle commemorations with the Frei Compagnie Presiding over a medieval banquet RIP, Richard of York Launching my re-appraisal of his achievement, 2010
Pontefract Castle: keep drum towers Drum tower Motte & keep State range State range Stare range foundations Domestic range Kitchen foundations All Saints, Pontefract The old church, site of York’s first burial (minus head) Also buried here: Richard, Earl of Salisbury, York’s brother-in-law, executed at Pontefract Castle after the battle
Towton’s infamous ‘Bloody Meadow’: on such a day as this, the worst rout of the Wars of the Roses took place
Walk Towton 1461:
Visit associated sites from The Crooked Billet inn to the deserted medieval village of Lead, and the tomb of Lord Dacre in Saxton. Or if you feel energetic, take in the full Towton Battlefield Trail from its starting point in Towton Vale near the iconic burr tree, through Towton village to the site of the Lancastrian camp and famous mass graves, and follow the army’s footsteps to catastrophic defeat at Bloody Meadow and Dacre’s Cross.
Availability: weekend days year-round; weekdays by special arrangement
Fees: from £60 inclusive (depending on duration) for 1 – 10 people, £6 per head for groups of 11 or more
From Wakefield to Towton
Locations of key sites and battles in the Wakefield – Towton campaign Location map of Wigmore Castle, Herefordshire Here, in early January 1461, Edward, Earl of March, learned that by the death of his father Richard in battle at Wakefield, he had become Duke of York, heir-apparent to Henry VI – and the new target of Lancastrian loyalists led by Queen Margaret of Anjou. Wigmore Castle today, a picturesque ruin: the keep Walls and door arch View from Wigmore Castle Mortimer’s Cross, the important junction where Edward’s troops intercepted Owen Tudor, King Henry’s step-father, on his way to join Queen Margaret’s army Battlefield area, Mortimer’s Cross 1750s working water-mill – there was probably a mill on this site at the time of the battle The battle monument – inspired by the omen of a parhelion (‘sun dog’, or triple sun), Edward led the Yorkists to victory on February 3rd, 1461 – and beheaded Owen Tudor in revenge for the treatment of his father and brother Edmund at Wakefield February 17th, 1461: Edward’s ally Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, faced the rebel Queen’s army at St Albans Outflanked by the Lancastrians, Warwick’s troops fought – and lost – in the streets of St Albans, around this medieval clock tower Bernard’s Heath, where Henry VI was abandoned by the routing Yorkists and later reunited with his Queen and their son, Prince Edward Despite victories at Wakefield and St Albans, the Lancastrian monarchs could not take London, so about-faced for the northern capital, York – hotly pursued by the newly proclaimed King Edward IV! Late March, 1461: John, Lord Clifford of Craven, held up the Yorkist advance at Ferrybridge while his comrades marched from York to their chosen battleground at Towton March 28th, 1461: Lord Clifford and his ‘Flower of Craven’ were overtaken and killed in the rolling fields of Dintingdale near Saxton, a bare mile from the main army’s position Find out what happened next in the book I co-wrote with Alan Stringer!
Saxton Village & the Battle of Towton
The Crooked Billet, Saxton, site of Edward IV’s camp on the eve of the Battle of Towton Billet Battlefield board, erected by Towton Battlefield Society Historic apple trees, last survivors of the Billet’s orchard: L, Transparente de Croncels, R Yorkshire Greening Transparente de Croncels Lead deserted medieval village with Tyas family chapel in the field opposite the Billet St Mary’s, Lead Gable view Information board Interior with pulpit Tyas family tombs Detail of priest’s tomb – note the chalice Altar at Christmas Richard III Society Yorkshire Branch commemorative glass Tower of All Saints Church, Saxton village Re-used early Christian tombstone in fabric Re-used tombstone An earlier doorway Tomb of Ranulph, Lord Dacre of Gilsland, slain at Towton… …but not, as legend claims, buried with his horse! Memorial to the dead of Towton sculpted by the late Stephen Hines, and erected by Towton Battlefield Society Lord Dacre, (aka Frei Compagnie Secretary Wayne Reynolds), as he might have looked in life The village of Saxton, part of the ancient Kingdom of Elmet Earthworks, remnant of early defences Approaching the Yorkist battle lines, heading north from Saxton The iconic burr tree in the middle of North Acres, site of the opening archery exchange, as it might have looked on a snowy Palm Sunday in 1461 A Friends of Lead Church open day at the Billet with Towton Battlefield Society Frei Compagnie Medieval kitchen Wars of the Roses gunners Arming the knight Fully armed!
Towton Battlefield/Remembering Towton Through Re-enactment
Aerial view of Towton battlefield showing the Battlefield Trail & interpretation boards Start your tour with refreshments at The Crooked Billet, site of Edward IV’s camp on the eve of the Battle of Towton St Mary’s chapel, all that remains of the lost village of Lead in the field opposite, where Yorkist soldiers camped on the eve of battle
Battlefield Walk Stage 1: Crooked Billet to North Acres/Towton Vale Follow in the Yorkist army’s footsteps: head north from the Crooked Billet, following the field paths and edges, heading for the burr tree on the southern ridge of Towton Vale North Acres: Battlefield Board 1 Artist Graham Turner’s famous painting recreates the scene of the battle’s opening stages on 29th Match, 1461
Yorkist archers, shooting with the wind behind them, inflicted heavy casualties on the foe Lancastrians were forced to leave their higher ground and advance to hand-to-hand combat Stage 2: follow the path from Board 1 to Dacre’s Cross on the monument on the B1217, beside Battlefield Boards 2 & 3. Boards 2 & 3 From this point the Battlefield Trail is a circular route. I prefer to walk on down the road to Towton village… …and turn left towards the Rockingham Arms Turn left at the pub and head up the ‘Old London Road’… Some of the Lancastrian soldiers may have taken this route to battle from their camp around St Mary’s Church, now lost beneath the present Towton Hall. Skirting the edge of Towton plateau… …to an optional detour from the main trail, the path down to the River Cock…
…site of one of the ‘bridges of bodies’ where the dead piled high in the water Battlefield Board 5 The precipitous descent to Cock Beck – literally the Lancastrians’ downfall as the battle drew to its climax and their troops were pushed down towards the flooding river The notorious Bloody Meadow, site of the worst rout of the Wars of the Roses… …and two more interpretation boards Under snow, as it would have looked before the bloodshed on Palm Sunday 1461 The end of the day saw tens of thousands dead and many more wounded… …and a new king, Edward IV, on England’s throne
Towton Battlefield Society: remembering Towton through re-enactment Weekends under canvas – in all weathers! Frei Compagnie ladies preparing to feed the troops. Living the history: a Ferrers household blacksmith at work Frei Compagnie master bowyer crafting an English longbow Baking flat-bread on the Frei Co fire range A Yorkist liveried archer in the armoury A high-status tent… …and interior Traders and exhibitors doing well in the barn My Herstory Publications book stall! TBS Towton Tapestry Group display Arming the knight for combat: John, Lord Clifford of Craven Lord Clifford slugs it out with a Fauconberg archer Assembling for the memorial service Paying homage to the slain Yorkist and Lancastrian wreath-layers Palm crosses reverently laid by re-enactors and members of the public TBS patron, the late, great actor, author and archer Robert Hardy, addressing the crowd on the 550th anniversary in 2011 Crowds cluster round one of the new Battlefield Trail boards, unveiled in 2011 as part of the Towton 550 commemoration Preparing to do battle The Woodville Household muster Frei Compagnie soldiers prepare Ranulph, Lord Dacre of Gilsland, an early casualty on Palm Sunday 1461 An archer in authentically snowy conditions Medieval gunners Marching to war… The Battle of Ferrybridge: Clifford’s Flower of Craven (right) repel Yorkists Lord Clifford in triumph, shortly before his death at Dintingdale Charge! Men-at-arms Yorkist archers – I’m the little one, 4th from the left Battle lines prepare to clash Beauforts attack through a haze of gun-smoke and arrows A Woodville and a Yorkist clash swords and bucklers A Yorkist in fine brigandine (coat-of-plates) Battle rages on – luckily our fallen all rise at the end of the day… …unlike the men who fell in the snow at Bloody Meadow on Palm Sunday 1461, Lancastrian or Yorkist, we remember and honour them Towton 1461 – remember.
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