This Day in History: 1461-03-27

On 27th March 1461, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, and his uncle, William, Lord Fauconberg, arrived in the vanguard of Edward IV’s army at Pontefract Castle. The castle was in Yorkist hands at this time; either the constable of the castle had changed sides since the Battle of Wakefield or the castle had been abandoned. Warwick’s father, Lord Salisbury, had been beheaded here months earlier after the Battle of Wakefield with Robert, Bastard of Exeter, the older half-brother of the Duke of Exeter, held personally responsible for this act. Warwick had overseen the summary execution of Robert around 8th March in Coventry. Late on 27th March 1461, Edward, heir to  Richard Duke of York reached Pontefract, having travelled north collecting men in their thousands, ahead of the Battle of Towton. He camped his army (reputedly nearly 40,700 strong) on the triangular piece of land below the castle known locally as Bubwith Heath. On the afternoon and evening of that date the Battle of Ferrybridge took place, which was little more than a skirmish. When the Yorkist force, under Lord Fitzwalter, drove the defending Lancastrian forces off the bridge,  Fitzwalter camped there for the night as it was too late to return to Pontefract.