Pontefract Castle – 21st Century

DateEvent
1/1/2020In January 2020, Pontefract Castle received a Pontefract Civic Society Design Award. The Heritage Award acknowledged the significant conservation work that had taken place at the castle, improving visitor facilities and preserving the castle for the future, and resulting in the removal of the castle from Historic England's Heritage At Risk Register.
10/1/2019On 10th January 2019, 'The Sacred King' was filmed in the 'dungeon' at Pontefract Castle. It was a filmed version of the often-called ‘prison speech’ from William Shakespeare’s historical tragedy Richard II, taken from the beginning of Act 5, Scene 5. The scene of the king’s final speech had never been filmed at the historic site before. The Sacred King was directed by Yvonne Morley, filmed by Ben Porter, performed by Mark Burghagen with music by Shakespeare contemporary John Dowland, performed by tenor John Potter and lutenist Jacob Heringman
19/1/2017On 19th January 2017, Elizabeth Love, last owner of the Main Guard, at 6 Castle Chain, Pontefract, died. In her will she left the building in trust to be turned into a museum. In 2005, Historic England, then called English Heritage, carried out tree-ring analysis of timbers from the Main Guard. Core samples were obtained from thirty-two different oak timbers in a wide range of locations throughout the Main Guard. The analysis of these produced a single site chronology comprising twenty-five samples, and having a combined overall length of 150 rings. The site chronology was dated as spanning the years AD 1507 to AD 1656. Interpretation of the sapwood would indicate that all the dated timbers, from the basement, ground, and first-floors, and from the roof, were cut in a single phase of felling in AD 1656. Such a date would indicate that while the stone element of the Main Guard may date to the fifteenth century, a considerable amount of work was undertaken at this site shortly after the Civil War. No earlier or later material is detected amongst the sampled timbers.
14/2/2019On 14th February 2019, to commemorate the death of Richard II, A video 'The Sacred King' was published on YouTube. The film which was shot in the 'dungeon' at Pontefract Castle, was of the often-called ‘prison speech’ from William Shakespeare’s historical tragedy Richard II, taken from the beginning of Act 5, Scene 5. The scene of the king’s final speech had never been filmed at the historic site before. The Sacred King was directed by Yvonne Morley, filmed by Ben Porter, performed by Mark Burghagen with music by Shakespeare contemporary John Dowland, performed by tenor John Potter and lutenist Jacob Heringman.
10/4/2015On 10th April 2015, an episode of 'Flog It' was broadcast on BBC1, which showed British antiques dealer and presenter, Paul Martin, visiting Pontefract Castle
11/5/2016On 11th May 2016, Wessex Archaeology announced that it would be taking part in the community archaeology project which formed an important part of the Pontefract Castle, 'Key to the North' project. Their aim was to collect finds from a spoil heap deposited during the late 19th on the buildings known as the Royal Apartments (Queen's Tower,King's Tower either side of the Great Hall).
31/5/2012On 31st May 2012 it was announced that a project to conserve the remains of Pontefract Castle had received £65,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The money was awarded as part of a £3.6m plan to preserve the castle site. The funding was to support an application for £3m that was submitted in 2013.
4/6/2012On 4th June 2012, Pontefract Castle and Castle Hill, Huddersfield were among more than 4,000 places around the world where beacons were lit in sequence, to mark the Queen becoming the second monarch in British history to celebrate a sixty years' reign. Originally used for communication or as warnings, beacon chains have come to be used for celebrations. They were lit for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and Queen Elizabeth II's Silver and Golden Jubilees in 1977 and 2002. In the evening of 4th June, during a special Bank Holiday celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the first 'Proms at the Castle' took place, where an evening of classical music was performed by the West Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra, followed by a firework display.
9/6/2021On 9th June 2021, Professor Suzannah Lipscomb, an historian, author, broadcaster, and award-winning professor emerita of history at the University of Roehampton and Professor Andy Wood, Professor of Social History at Durham University came to Pontefract Castle to film what was to become part of Episode 6 of the television  series "Walking Tudor England". Episode 6 concentrated on the Pilgrimage of Grace of 1536 and its strong links with Pontefract Castle.
22/7/2016On 22nd July 2016, the television programme, 'The Hairy Builder with Dave Myers' was broadcast on BBC2. The programme showed Dave Myers (one of the two famous 'Hairy Biker' cooks ) help builders restore parts of Pontefract Castle for future generations.
27/7/2020On 27th July 2020, DigVentures returned to Pontefract Castle in a three-weeks' archaeological dig to finish excavating the drawbridge pit that they had unearthed in 2019. Funded by Historic England, the project was an opportunity to carry out further investigation of the gatehouse following the unexpected discovery of the remains of a barbican and drawbridge pit during the Key to the North project in 2016. Wakefield Council was supported and advised on the excavations by Historic England and the West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service (WYAAS).The excavations revealed some interesting masons' marks and artefacts that helped to date the gatehouse as well as an 8m deep drawbridge pit.
1/8/2019The Key to the North project was completed in 2019 and, on Yorkshire Day that year, Historic England announced to a crowd of castle visitors that it would be removing the castle from its Heritage At Risk register where it had been listed since 2003. This was one of the key aims of the project. The £5 million project, which included a new visitor centre, extensive conservation of the monument, a viewing platform, new paths and a bandstand, was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England, the Council, the Wolfson Foundation and landfill charity EpaC.
17/8/2021On 17th August 2021, episode 6 of the documentary series "Walking Tudor England" was first broadcast by 5Select when Professor Suzannah Lipscomb, an historian, author, broadcaster, and award-winning professor emerita of history at the University of Roehampton and Professor Andy Wood, Professor of Social History at Durham University discussed the Pilgrimage of Grace of 1536 and its strong links with Pontefract Castle, whilst in the castle grounds.
25/8/2015On 25th August 2015, Wakefield Council announced that work on the £3.5 million 'Key to the North' project would start at Pontefract Castle in September. The work would include carrying out conservation work to the monument to take the castle off Historic England's 'At Risk' register. The work also restored and extended the Arts and Crafts Barn to improve learning facilities. A shop, exhibition space and Cafe was also provided. The project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (£3.04 million) and Historic England, Wakefield Council, The Wolfson Foundation and the charity EPaC
8/9/2017On 8th September 2017, the Elizabeth Love Will Trust (No. 1174576) was registered as a charity to establish and run a museum at 6 Castle Chain, Pontefract in accordance with the last will and testament of Elizabeth Love.
1/10/2019On 1st November 2019, DigVentures started a five-weeks' archaeological dig to uncover the gatehouse that had protected Pontefract Castle's main entrance in the 1300s.