This Day in History: 1654-08-17

On 17th August 1654, John Evelyn FRS, writer, gardener and diarist whose works encompassed art, culture and politics including the execution of Charles I, rise and death of Oliver Cromwell and the Great Plague and later Great Fire of London, visited Pontefract. He noted: ‘the castle, famous for many sieges both of late and ancient times, and the death of that unhappy King murdered in it (Richard II), was now demolishing by the rebels: it stands on a mount and makes a goodly show at a distance. The Queen has a house here, and there are many fair seats near it, especially Mr Pierrepont’s, built at the foot of a hill out of the castle ruins. We all alighted in the highway to drink at a crystal spring, which they call Robin Hood’s Well; near it, is a stone chair, and an iron ladle to drink out of, chained to the seat.’ (The reference is to the one-time Robin Hood’s Well just south of Barnsdale).