Sandal Castle – December

15/12/1286On 15th December 1286, William de Warenne, son of John de Warenne - 6th Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal Castle - was killed at a tournament in Croydon, just 6 months after the birth of his son and heir, John, who would become the seventh and last Earl of Surrey and last of the de Warenne's to own Sandal Castle.
2/12/1307On 2nd December 1307, John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal Castle, opposed Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall, and court favourite of Edward II, at a tournament at Wallingford. Later, after Gaveston’s execution, Edward II forbade de Warenne to attend tournaments at Newmarket on the 17th January 1313 and Brackley on the 16th September that same year.
18/12/1484On 18th December 1484, a message from Thomas Wrangwysh, Mayor of York, addressed to the Earl of Lincoln, Lord President of the Council of the North, arrived at Sandal Castle. John Stafford and his son, Richard had been arrested (and confessed) on charges of counterfeiting French crowns and ‘uttering’ (passing) them within the city. Under a statute of Edward III, false coining was high treason punishable by a gruesome death. Wrangwysh requested the Earl ‘to show your commandment by our servant this bearer how I shall deal with the said John and with his son’. Lincoln requested Stafford to be sent to him to be examined with his son kept at York. However, York’s city council baulked at its authority being questioned and requested Stafford, ‘after your high pleasure and wisdom’ to be remitted to York ‘to be punished after his demerits, according to the rights of the said city’. Albeit Stafford’s (and son’s) fate is not known, it is likely his defence of finding coining irons in Derbyshire and counterfeiting foreign coins and not English ones was not a felony and would not become so until the reign of Henry VII!
21/12/1460Between 21st -24th December 1460, Richard Duke of York arrived at his castle at Sandal with an army of approximately 5,000 men. Richard had initially intended to confront the Lancastrian armies based at Pontefract but, on realising he would be significantly outnumbered (the Lancastrians had approx. 15,000 troops), Richard decided he would have to spend Christmas at Sandal awaiting reinforcements from his son Edward Earl of March (later Edward IV); Edward had headed to the Welsh Marches to suppress a Lancastrian uprising in that area. Some contemporaries have the issue of the ravaging of the Yorkist properties in Yorkshire, especially by the Earls of Northumberland and Clifford, as the reason why York travelled north from London. However, what should not be forgotten is that it was the recovery of the Lancastrian strongholds such as Pontefract Castle that were key reasons for York's  venture.
25/12/1454On 25th December 1454, Henry VI awoke from his stupor and his senses quickly returned. He was introduced to his son Edward who had been born the previous year, and he quickly began to reverse all of the policies of the Duke of York that had been pursued over the last year. Richard would retire quietly to his castle at Sandal.
29/12/1460On 29th December 1460, both the Lancastrian and Yorkist forces were in position in readiness for battle (see the Pontefract posting on 28th December). Throughout the whole of the 29th, the Lancastrian forces taunted Richard, who was securely in his castle, trying to draw him from his stronghold as the Lancastrians had no siege equipment with them. The Lancastrians realised that, without any siege equipment, the longer Richard could maintain his position in the castle then the greater would be the likelihood that his forces would be reinforced. Consequently, the Lancastrians were desperate to draw him into battle.
30/12/1454On 30th December 1454, with Henry VI regaining his ‘sanity’ and acknowledging his young son, Prince Edward, for the first time, Richard, Duke of York’s regency effectively came to an end and he retired quietly to his castle at Sandal.
30/12/1460Margaret of AnjouFollowing the Battle of Wakefield, bonfires were lighted on 30th - 31st December 1460 to enable the conquerors to bury the bodies of the slain on the field of battle. A letter written at the time by a son who visited the battlefield in search of the dead body of his father said 'that at midnight the kindly snow fell like a mantle on the dead and covered the rueful faces staring to directly up to heaven'. After the battle, the Lancastrians set off towards York with the intention of reuniting with Margaret of Anjou who had remained in Scotland throughout the whole of the Wakefield campaign to gather further support and an army of mercenaries.
30/12/1460Richard_of_York_MemorialOn 30th December 1460, the Battle of Wakefield was fought on the plain ground between Sandal Castle and the town of Wakefield i.e. to the north of Sandal Castle. This battle has often been overlooked in history mainly due to its short duration (one to two hours) and the number of combatants, about 30,000, when compared against some of the great battles of the era at St Albans, Towton and Barnet. However, this battle changed the course of English history as the Yorkists were routed, losing 2,500 men, and Richard Duke of York, himself, who was killed and his head subsequently displayed on Micklegate Bar in York. There are many theories why Richard engaged the Lancastrians in battle when significantly outnumbered: the Yorkists had approximately 5,000 troops against the Lancastrians' 15,000-22,000 troops. These theories include York's underestimating the Lancastrian force and not realising that the Lancastrians had been split and hidden in woods to the west, east and north of the castle, meaning that  when Richard charged down the hill he was quickly surrounded. Also, Lord John Neville, on his long march North, had purportedly got word to Richard that he would raise troops to support his cause and arrive on the battlefield with 8,000 men, but he quickly changed sides, leading to the Yorkist army being encircled by enemy forces. Following the battle, Richard's second son Edmund, Earl of Rutland was captured close to Chantry Bridge by Lord Clifford and subsequently slain. The Earl of Salisbury was captured and taken to Pontefract where on the following day he was executed and his head removed and placed on Micklegate Bar along with Edmund's and his father's.
3/12/1887On 3rd December 1887, it was reported that the Sandal Local Board had taken in hand the works of laying out Sandal Castle hill to render it an attractive recreation ground for visitors.
17/12/1955On 17th December 1955, the ‘Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer’ reported: ‘Tenders are invited for the supply and erection of 500 yards of hardwood fencing to the grounds of Sandal Castle.’