Friends of Sandal Castle in Battle of Wakefield Memorial March

A memorial march was due to take place in Wakefield today to mark the 561st anniversary of a battle that changed the course of English history.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 3rd January 2022, 4:45 am
Members of the Harrington Household Yorkists from the Federation of the War of the Roses march past Sandal castle at the end of a previous year's Battle of Wakefield memorial march.

Photo: Gary Longbottom
Members of the Harrington Household Yorkists from the Federation of the War of the Roses march past Sandal castle at the end of a previous year's Battle of Wakefield memorial march. Photo: Gary Longbottom

The Friends of Sandal Castle along with the Frei Compagnie and the Harrington Household groups of re-enactors planned a Battle of Wakefield Memorial March today (Jan 3), Covid restrictions permitting.

Read More

Read More
Liam Harrison interview: How the Muay Thai world champion from Harehills got the...

They were due to gather at Wakefield Cathedral from 11.45 am before marching to Sandal Castle, led by THe Bishop of Wakefield the Right Reverend Tony Robinson.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The marchers were due to stop along the way at Chantry Chapel and the Duke of York Monument.

They were due to lay wreaths en route ahead of a short service at the castle to honour those who fell in the Battle of Wakefield on December 30, 1460, and all the victims of conflicts ever since.

Richard, Duke of York, the disputed King of England and his 5,000 men were ready to fight for his right to the throne from his home at Sandal Castle.

And just a few miles away an army had been assembled at Pontefract Castle.

The Lancastrian forces, under the command of Margaret of Anjou, the wife of King Henry VI, numbered an estimated 15,000.

Both armies clashed on December 30, 1460 on land that is now Manygates Park.

It is estimated that as many as 3,000 men were killed in the battle, with Richard’s forces, the Yorkists, accounting for most of the casualties.

The battle of Wakefield was the fifth one of the Wars of the Roses fought between the Houses of Lancaster and York between 1455 and 1485.

Historian Helen Cox, who has written an authoritative book, The Battle of Wakefield Revisited, said: “The Lancastrians were led by King Henry VI, who had held the throne since 1429, and the Yorkists were led by Richard, Duke of York, who made a bid for the crown.

“The Lancastrians used Pontefract Castle as a stronghold throughout the wars and Richard, Duke of York owned Sandal Castle.”

The first battle took place at St Albans in 1455 and was a Yorkist victory. Four years of uneasy truce followed.

Helen added: “Tensions between the two houses intensified after 1459 and the Yorkists were victorious again in the 1460 Battle of Northampton when King Henry VI was captured and imprisoned.”

Richard then went to London to enter parliament and try to claim the throne. But his bid was rejected.

Instead, the Act of Accord was passed, meaning Richard would be heir to the throne after Henry’s death.

Queen Margaret - Henry’s wife - was outraged and began increasing the size of the Lancastrian army to free the King. The supporters gathered at Pontefract Castle.

Helen said: “In early December 1460, Richard, Duke of York, left London to make his way to his castle at Sandal with his son Edmund,Earl of Rutland, arriving around December 21.

“On December 30, Richard left the castle marching down the present-day Manygates Lane to face the enemy deployed in the Portobello area.

“Once committed on the field he was betrayed by a supposed ally, surrounded and outnumbered.”

When it became obvious the battle was lost Edmund, Earl of Rutland and his troops made a break for the north and tried to escape through Wakefield.

They were pursued by John, Lord Clifford of Craven and it is believed they were assassinated outside the Chantry Chapel.

Richard tried to fight his way back to the safety of Sandal Castle but was killed on the field.

This spot has been identified as being the triangle of land where Milnthorpe Lane and Manygates Lane meet - now the site of Manygates School.

Helen said: “The heads of Richard, his son Edmund and other nobles were taken to Pontefract Castle and then to York where they were displayed on spikes above the city gates.”

Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.