This Day in History: 1649-03-27

After the surrender of Pontefract Castle to Major General Lambert of the Parliamentarian forces, a meeting of the townsfolk of Pontefract was held in the Moot Hall, under the presidency of Edward Field, the Mayor. A petition was drawn up and addressed ”To the supreme authority of England, the Commons assembled in Parliament.” It set forth that since the beginning of the wars the town had been greatly impoverished and depopulated. Two hundred dwelling- houses had been ‘’utterly ruinated.” Many persons and families had been totally undone and the place of public worship had been sadly devastated. Altogether, the borough had suffered damage to the extent of over £40,000 (£7.5 million today) . Therefore, so that the true cause of all these troubles might be removed, the petitioners prayed that the castle should be ”wholly razed down and demolished” ; that a certain amount of its lead and timber should be devoted to the repairs of the church and the re-edifying of a house for the minister, and that a sum of £1000 (£187,000 today) should be handed over to the town. This petition was consigned to Major General Lambert at the Parliamentarian headquarters at Knottingley and by him duly sent forward to Westminster. On the 27th March 1649 the assembled Commons resolved “That the Castle of Pontefract be forthwith totally demolished” The formal order for the demolition was made a week later by the West Riding Justices sitting at Wakefield, and its execution was entrusted to Edward Field, the Mayor, and certain other prominent townsmen.