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October 10th to December 2nd, 1460, when the Duke, accompanied by his son Edmund, Earl of Rutland, set out northwards, and arrived at his castle of Sandal on Sunday, December 21st, and here they spent their last Christmas. The Lancastrian army was stationed at Pontefract Castle, and on Tuesday, December 30th, a division of them attacked a foraging party who had been sent out from Sandal towards Wakefield. The fray was seen from the castle, and the Duke of York, against the advice of Sir David Hall, ordered an advance of his whole army; the drawbridge over the moat at the gatehouse on the north side of the castle was let down, and the duke's force of 5,000 men marched out and down the lane now known as Cock and Bottle, or Manygates Lane, which was then the London Road, to the fields sloping down towards the Calder in the direction of Wakefield bridge. No sooner had they done so than the main body of the Lancastrian army under Lord Clifford, who had been in ambush near Milnthorpe, on the south side of the castle, swept forward between the river and the fortress, then, cutting off all retreat to the latter, drove the Yorkists nearer to Wakefield. The castle, being left almost unguarded, was, at the very commencement of the battle, captured and held by a troop under James Butler, sometime previously created Earl of Wiltshire by the Queen. The battle was fought in what was then known as Wakefield Green, but now as Cock and Bottle lane, Manygates, and Portobello. The Duke fell mortally wounded at a place long marked by three willow trees (two of which were standing in 1865, the following year one was blown down, and the last of them has now disappeared), which grew about 100 yards above the site of Manygates Toll Bar, now disused. In memory of this sad event, the duke's son, when he ascended the throne the following year as Edward the Fourth, erected a cross on the spot where his father fell, and this remained until the Roundhead soldiery demolished it in the Civil War, when Sandal Castle was besieged. The cross stood in a small plot of ground on the west side of Cock and Bottle lane, a hundred yards beyond the junction of this lane and the one leading between the castle and the river to Milnthorpe; this plot was surrounded by a fence, which the owner of the land was obliged by his tenure to keep in repair.
A large gold ring was found near this place, and was
deposited in Ralph Thoresby's museum at Leeds. At the sale of his effects, it was purchased for two guineas by Mr. Benj. Bartlet, F.S.A., who remembered the finding of it. On the ring were engraved in effigy the Blessed Virgin with two other Saints.
Within was the motto Pur bon amour,18 (Fig. 1.)
On January 27, 1763, Mr. Bartlet exhibited to the Society of Antiquaries, an antique onyx seal, found in 1760 near Sandal Castle, exhibiting a soldier with a helmet and lance, leading a horse; round the gold rim in which it was set, ran this monkish inscription, MANTICA MENTITVR IANVA NOSTER EQVS.19 (Fig. 2.)
Nearly half of the five thousand whom the duke led forth from Sandal Castle perished in the fight, and, according to local tradition, their bodies were thrown into great trenches dug in the field above that in which their leader was slain; a letter written at the time by a son who visited the bloody field in search of the dead body of his father, says that, "at midnight the kindly snow fell like a mantle on the dead, and covered the
18 Camden's Britannia. Gough's Ed. 1789. Vol. III. p. 34, Pl. I. fig. 12.
19 Archæologia, Vol. VIII. p. 427, Pl. XXX. fig. 1.
rueful faces staring so fiercely to Heaven." 20 When digging the foundations of Portobello house in 1825, and in forming the sunk fence there, on the site of the battle, human bones, broken swords, spurs and fragments of armour were turned
On the Duke's death, his son Edward, Earl of March, became the owner of Sandal Castle, and after the decisive battle of Towton on Palm Sunday, 1461, King of England; it was then decided that he should keep all his own lands as private fiefs, and not as Crown possessions. Sir John Savile of Thornhill was appointed seneschal of Wakefield, and occasionally resided at Sandal Castle, where he died on the morrow of the feast of St. Basil, 1482. He had a great funeral, and was carried through Wakefield and sumptuously buried at Thornhill. In 1470, when the chancel of Wakefield parish church was rebuilt, Sir John filled the east window with painted glass; on the right side was "a knight kneeling in his coate, a Saviles armes on his brest, behind him nine sonnes, each having his coate on his brest." On the left side of the window was "a woman (his wife Alice Gascoigne) kneeling, having Gascoigne and Savile's coat impaled; behind her eight daughters." 21
Richard the Third, during his brief reign, spent some time at Sandal; "he looked upon himself as a Yorkshireman, and regarded the people with a kindness which was fully returned. He understood the ways of the people, and showed that he valued their affection. No King of England has been more beloved in York. He was constantly passing to and fro in the county," 22 and some elm trees growing on the east side of the Castle Lane are still spoken of as "Richard the Third's trees," though the present elms cannot be those of four centuries ago. On June 3, 1484, he gave a warrant to John Woderove, Receiver of Wakefield, to build a new tower in the Castle, and to have such sums of money from the royal exchequer as he should require for the purpose; 23 he also ordered a tun of wine to be delivered there yearly for the use of the castle, and on the 20th of July following, while staying at York, Richard assigned the
20 Quoted from a paper read before the Wakefield Photographic Society by A. W. Stanfield, Esq., 1893.
21 The Cathedral Church of Wake
field, p. 84.
Towns, York. Canon
Harleian MS. Num. 433, 1881.
manors of Ulverstone and Thirnom in Lancashire for the maintenance of his household at Sandal.24 During the residence of his Council there, on October 15, an order was given to build a bakehouse and a brewhouse; 25 and on the 1st of the following February, Edmunde Banke was presented to the office of Chaplain in St. Nicholas Chapel. On the 25th, Richard Beeston, " an Esquire of our Chamber," was appointed Constable and Janitor of Sandal Castle, with an annuity of £15 in addition to certain other payments.26
After the death of Richard on Bosworth field, and the accession of Henry the Seventh, there seems to have been a change in the personnel of the castle, for Sir John Saville, knight, of Lupset, became constable,27 and two years later the rents and profits from the castle and manor were appropriated to the defence of Berwick-upon-Tweed, but were afterwards resumed.23 It was probably about this time that the Tudor domestic buildings in the courtyard of the castle were erected for the residence of the seneschals and others; these were half-timbered houses of two storeys with lofty gabled roofs.
In 1495, the estates that had been settled on Edmund of Langley, and which had been the private property of the Dukes of York, even when they came to the throne in the person of Edward the Fourth, were declared to be for ever annexed to the Crown as the property of the sovereign, there being then no apparent likelihood of the succession being disturbed. Thus Sandal once again became a Crown possession, and during the reign of the eighth Henry we have a complete list of the changes in the officers at the castle; thus in 1521 Sir Richard Tempest was promised the reversion of the office of constable there, but in 1533, Thomas, Earl of Rutland, obtained the post.2 The chaplains in charge of the chapel of St. Nicholas within the castle during this period, were Matthew Shepherd, succeeded in 1516 by John Morice, whilst the last chaplain was Ranf Birkhede. At the dissolution of the chantries this priest was found to be diligent in celebrating mass in the chapel, and in praying for the prosperity of the king's royal
24 Harleian MS. Num. 433, 1917.
25 Addl. MS. 24439.
26 Put. Rolls, 2 Ric. III.
Pat. Rolls, 1 Hen. VII.
29 Parl. Rolls, 3 Hen. VII.
29 Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII. J. S. Brewer.