We are a group of volunteers and researchers looking into the varied and diverse stories of the two castles and specific historical events linked to the two sites and their environs, or people closely associated with such.
Pontefract Castle was originally built in 1070 by the de Lacy family who had journeyed to England with William the Conqueror. The castle was first built of timber but, over time, a stone fortress was constructed and added to.
The first castle at Sandal started to be built in 1107 at Lowe Hill by the de Warenne family, who also arrived with the Norman Conquest. In the early 13th century, a more defendable castle was built at the Sandal Castle site we see today. The castle has a compact but very secure design.
The histories of the two castles are inextricably linked. With their initial development as motte and bailey castles built on lands granted to Norman barons who had supported William of Normandy in his conquest of England, through Magna Carta, the local and baronial wars of Thomas of Lancaster, the Wars of the Roses, the English Civil War, and their destruction in its immediate aftermath, their story is the story of medieval England. In terms of the events relating to the Civil War at Pontefract, we have drawn upon various sources including extracts and/or summaries from the diaries of the Royalist Nathan Drake, which would explain the perspective of some of the entries.
However, this is a story that has often been overlooked, and through this website, we hope to bring the histories of these two great castles to a wholly new audience. With Pontefract being the ‘Key to the North’ (Jonathan Swift claimed ‘I like Pomfret because it is in all our histories’) and Sandal being the site of the death of the ‘heir’ to the throne, Richard Duke of York, this is a fascinating narrative that deserves to be more widely known.
To all our readers; we would like to know what you think about our website, what brought you to us and if you have any information that you would be willing to share with us that is not already covered. Please use the ‘Contact Us’ button on this page and we will endeavour to reply as soon as we can.
Get ready to take a journey through a thousand years of history.
This site is dedicated to the memory of Asa Stewart who sadly died in November 2020. Asa developed this site and it is in remembrance of Asa that we will carry on his work. We hope that you will find this historical site both interesting and educational.
We would also like to thank Andy Blight and Carole Archer whose help has been greatly appreciated in further developing the site and promoting our talks and tours.