Sandal Castle: Celebrations to delve into battle’s past

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A battle that changed the course of English history will be remembered during celebrations at Sandal Castle at Wakefield on New Year’s Eve.

Medieval weapons, clothes and crafts from the era of the Battle of Wakefield will be used by the Frei Compagnie re-enactors to help bring 15th century history to life.

On December 30, 1460, Richard, Duke of York – the disputed king of England – and his small army of around 5,000 left the safety of Sandal Castle, pictured, only to be overwhelmed by King Henry VI’s Lancastrian forces estimated at 15,000 strong during the Wars of the Roses.

Richard and his 17-year-old son Edmund, Earl of Rutland, were killed in the slaughter and their heads infamously stuck on poles at Micklegate Bar in York.

Richard’s lack of military nous is thought to be the inspiration behind the nursery rhyme The Grand Old Duke of York.

The Frei Compagnie will be performing a show and tell event in partnership with the Friends of the Castle from 1pm to 3pm this Saturday.

At around 2pm residents will join members of the Wakefield Historical Society and the Yorkshire branch of the Richard III Society to lay a wreath at a monument on Manygates Lane, where it is believed Richard fell.

Friends of Sandal Castle member Dr Keith Souter, told the Yorkshire Evening Post that the battle was a key moment in the country’s past. He said: “I think it’s important to have a sense of your roots and background to what has happened in the past.

“Wakefield was a very important part of the country, when Leeds was just a village. The idea of this event is so people can talk with the re-enactors and get a flavour of what life was like in the 15th century.”