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Was Pontefract Castle Once ‘the Greatest Castle In the North'?

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INTRODUCTION In this essay I aim to ascertain whether or not Pontefract Castle was once 'The Greatest Castle in the North. We have chosen to compare Pontefract Castle to Conisbrough and Peveril Castles, as the three were built both around the same time and in the same general locality. It would be unfair and unnecessary to compare a Castle further afield using these factors as geographical and building techniques could dramatically alter the building and quality of the Castle. There are three sections to this essay. These are: Pontefract Castle. Conisbrough Castle Peveril Castle Within each of these sections I will discuss: What is meant by 'The Greatest Castle In The North'. Why, when and where were the Castles built. Size. The Keeps. Other Important Towers. Were the Castles Royal Castles. Were the Castles ever besieged. When is a Castle deemed important. I will also include maps and diagrams to help find out whether or not Pontefract Castle was once 'The Greatest Castle in the North'. Although I intend to find out which Castle is indeed 'The Greatest Castle in the North' any conclusion of mine will be subject to criticism, as many people have very different perspectives of what greatness is composed of. ...read more.


Even today the foundations of the buttresses and portcullis exist as garden features. A PICURE OF 'THE SWILLINGTON TOWER 1560 A DIAGRAM OF 'THE SALLYPORT ACCESS' WAS PONTEFRACT CASTLE A ROYAL CASTLE? Pontefract Castle was a Royal Castle as fourteen of the thirty owners of the Castle were Kings or Queens, one of which came from the second De Lacy line, Three from the House of Lancaster, three from the House of York, five from the Tudors and two from the Stuarts. Pontefract Castle was also the last Royalist stronghold during the civil war. The Royalty bar chart indicates the entire ownership of the Castle from when it was first built to 1649, the sign indicates Royalty. The total number of years of Royalty in the Castle in 267 of the 579 years of the Castle reign. Richard the second was held prisoner here and this is where he met his end. ROYALTY CHART WAS PONTEFRACT CASTLE EVER BESIEGED. Pontefract Castle's defences were not put to any serious test until the Castle was held by Royalists during the civil war. This in itself is a testament to it's reputed strength. Oliver Cromwell summarised this in a letter to Parliament after visiting the Castle during the third siege in 1648. ...read more.


Before the third siege, an attempt was made to storm the Castle. The Royalist sympathiser Corporal Floyd who was in the Castle, attempted to ensure that the sentry on guard was also a Royalist sympathiser. This never happened however and he got so drunk that he fell asleep and the Royalists scaling the wall were see by the guard and raised the alarm. Because of this, General Cotterell decided to bring all of this troops into the Castle which was about 100 men. William Paulden and Morris with about nine others made an audacious attempt, they pretended to be delivering extra beds for the garrison, this enabled them to enter the fortress, and surprise the guards who ended up being locked in the dungeons with the governor (Cotterell). Once this had occurred around 500 men entered the Castle and gathered provisions for yet another siege. The third siege was supervised by Major General Lambert, this was the most successful of all the sieges as the Royalists 'honourably' surrendered after five months, again mainly due to famine. Although the execution of their King, Charles the first, was also a major influence, they only lasted two months without him. They surrendered on 22nd March 1649. ...read more.

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