A survey report of Pontefract Castle dated 3rd July 1557 recorded: ‘ That our Tower called the Gyllot Tower, or the great Round Tower, both within, & without the Walls of our Castell of Pountfret, p’cel of our said Duchy, in our said County, is in great ruine & decay, as well in tymber-work as in Stonework & is likely shortly to fall down, unless some speedy Remedy be had & provided for the same…….We authorize you…to take such Stone 7 tymber meet, & necessary for the Repair of our said Tower in such places hereafter recited.
That is to say the said Stone, as well of the late dissolved Abbey of Pountf’t aforesd, as of the decayed Chappell called St Thomas Hill being distant one quartr of a Mile or thereabouts from our said Castell; And the said Timber Tress to be taken in our Woods of Creedling Sowewood & Ackworth…….’
A survey of Pontefract Castle was made in 1538 on the 10th and 12th of January by Sir Henry Savell, Sir George Lawson and Robert Chaloner, advised by John Forman (mason), John Tomson (carpenter) and Tomas Jackson (founder). Excerpts included: ‘; lxx (70) foder of newe leed ov’ and besides the old leed of the same Castell woll serve to cov’ newe all such howses within the said Castell as haith been cov’yd with leed of lait….; xx (20) Toone of Tymber wolle serve for the repa’con of tymber worke for the said Castell…’
On 17th December 1587, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist of Pontefract Castle’s first two sieges, was baptised at Halifax.
In May 1528, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Somerset and Richmond, and illegitimate son of Henry VIII, was staying at Pontefract Castle when outbreaks of sweating sickness were recorded in the town. William Parr wrote to Thomas Wolsey, Lord High Chancellor, that Henry was in good health but ‘there bee six persons lately disseassed within the lordship of Pountfrete…and that many young children bee sicke of the pokes nere thereabouts.’. Henry was moved to Ledestone, a house belonging to the Prior of Pontefract, three miles from the castle. The place was Ledston Hall or the manor that stood on the present site of the later hall.
In December 1527, the Earl of Northumberland wrote to Thomas Wolsey, Lord High Chancellor, after visiting Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Somerset and Richmond, and illegitimate son of Henry VIII, at Pontefract Castle that ‘he was well received that his dulled wit cannot disclose how much he was gratified with the Duke’s good qualities.’
On 11th February 1527, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Somerset and Richmond, and illegitimate son of Henry VIII, wrote to King James V of Scotland from Pontefract Castle. Henry and James were cousins (James being the son of Henry VIII’s elder sister, Margaret) with James having inherited the throne at the age of seventeen months after the death of his father at Flodden Field. Henry believed James wanted ‘three or four couple of hounds for hunting the fox’ and sent him ‘ten couple that he has tried’ plus Nicholas Eton, Henry’s yeoman of the hunt, who was to remain in Scotland a month ‘to show the mode of hunting’. James thanked his cousin ‘for his honest present’ sending Henry ‘two brace of hounds for deer and smaller beasts…..and some of the best red hawks in the realm’ for hawking.’
On 25th December 1526, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Somerset and Richmond, and illegitimate son of Henry VIII, was with his household at Pontefract Castle. The Council informed Thomas Wolsey, Lord High Chancellor, that henry had ‘kept a right honourable Christmas…..with numbers of worshipful persons have come to visit him.’
On 16th December 1570, Francis Mallett, Dean of Lincoln, died at Normanton (6 miles from Pontefract). During Edward VI’s reign, Mallett was principal chaplain and almoner of Princess Mary (from 1544), the future Mary I. To take this position, he had left the employment of Queen Consort, Katherine Parr. He had also been chaplain to Thomas Cranmer in the mid-1530s and to Thomas Cromwell in 1538. He had been Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge in 1536 and 1540 and was appointed to the seventh stall in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle in 1543, holding it until 1570. Mallett was imprisoned in the Tower of London for celebrating Mass for Mary at Beaulieu in May 1551. Mary, as queen, made him Dean of Lincoln in 1554 and also Lord High Almoner.
On 22nd December 1550, Richard of Eastwell, possible illegitimate son of Richard III (or Duke of Gloucester at the child’s conception) and half-brother of Richard’s other known illegitimate children, John of Pontefract, and Katherine Plantagenet, was buried at St Mary’s Church, Eastwell in Kent. Parish records note: ‘Rychard Plantagenet was buryed on the 22. daye of December, anno ut supra. Ex registro de Eastwell, sub anno 1550.’ Eastwell was said to have been boarded with a schoolmaster when growing up and visited four times a year by an unknown gentleman who paid for his upkeep. He claimed that on the evening before the Battle of Bosworth he had been taken to Richard III’s tent, informed that he was the king’s son and told to watch the battle from a safe vantage point. The king then told the boy that, if he won, he would acknowledge him as his son. If he lost, he told the boy to conceal his identity permanently. Eastwell was employed by Sir Thomas Moyle, the lord of the manor at Eastwell, as a gardener and bricklayer; in the rest hour, whilst the other workers talked and threw dice, he would sit apart and read a book in Latin. He was given a house on the grounds, a building called “Plantagenet Cottage” which still stands on the site and a well in Eastwell Park still bears his name.
On 8th February 1526, Dr Magnus wrote to Cardinal Wolsey from Pontefract saying that a servant of James V of Scotland had recently arrived there bringing a letter from his master, another from the queen dowager, the king’s mother ‘conteynnyng boothe onn effecte and purpose That I wolde doo so myche as to send to the said kyngges grace three or foure couple of houndes mete for hunting of the haire fox and other gretter game and also a couple of lyam hounds being suche as wolde ride behynde men on horseback’