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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Speed

Sandal Castle and the Battle of Wakefield

Updated: Jul 15, 2022

The battle of Wakefield was one of the most significant battles of the Wars of the Roses. It took place on December 30th, 1460, between the rival houses of York and Lancaster, and resulted in the death of Richard, Duke of York, and many others. We headed to Wakefield on the anniversary of the battle to visit the castle and other key sites.


Don't need accessibility info? Jump to The Visit to find out more about Sandal Castle and the Battle of Wakefield.

Locations


Sandal Castle Manygates Lane, Sandal, Wakefield, Yorkshire, WF2 7DS


Duke of York Monument is situated behind the railings of the adult education centre, opposite Castle Grove Park, Manygates Lane


Chantry Bridge and the chapel of St Mary the Virgin, Calder Vale Road, Wakefield, WF1 5DL



Access


Sandal Castle



Parking on site is free but the car park is small so arrive early (open from 9am) if you can. Roadside parking is discouraged as it can prevent emergency vehicles being able to use the narrow road.


The Grounds are reasonably disabled-friendly. Paths around the castle are easy to use, providing good grip for walking aids and not too bumpy in my wheelchair. The main path provides good views of the castle ruins and motte and bailey design, as well as the battlefield, with information boards dotted around and low enough to read. A wooden bridge across the moat provides access to the grass areas of the bailey ruins, but the keep can only be reached by ascending many steps. Handrails are provided and steps are in excellent condition, but they were too great a challenge for me. Benches are available at many points along the main path encircling the moat.


Facilities Toilets are available to customers of the cafe when open, but I have not used these yet so can’t comment on their suitability.

The nearest public space Changing Places toilet is located 1.8 miles away in Ridings Shopping Centre.


Monument


Roughly half a mile down Manygates Lane, the road is wide enough to park on the road here. Dropped kerbs at various points. The park has paved access, too, and was part of the battlefield.


Chantry Bridge


Nearest parking (Waterfront Car Park, WF1 5JT) is quite a walk away and involves crossing busy roads. I can’t walk far so we parked on Calder Vale Road using my blue badge to park on double yellows, keeping to the rules of the badge and not causing an obstruction. I managed the short walk to the chapel from there using crutches, but the bridge is easily accessible by wheelchair.

The Visit


A keen Wars of the Roses enthusiast, I love visiting Wakefield. The Place is full of history. The Duke of York left the safety of his castle and battled the Lancastrian forces, something which has caused much bewilderment by amateurs and academics alike.

Each time I visit I change my mind as to why he chose to leave the castle and do battle, a decision which led to not only his death but the death of his son Edmund, Earl of Rutland.


Edmund is generally believed to have died at Chantry Bridge, hence our visit to this beautiful site. We drove to Calder Vale Road to park up and visit the bridge, so you might want to use your sat nav or navigational app if you want to visit there — it’s worth it if you don’t mind driving.

Visiting the castle provides a view of an area of the battlefield, and helps you get a sense of this key location, despite there being little of the castle remaining. History aside, it’s a nice easy path with plenty of nice spots to sit and enjoy the lovely views all around.


Although I was unable to make it up to the keep, my son took pictures for me. Being at the site is being where history lives, not being able to get to the keep isn’t too disappointing — after all, not everyone would have been admitted into the keep when it was a fully functioning castle!

Top Tips


  • The grass gets muddy and the path gets puddles so wear suitable footwear and clothing and be prepared for mucky wheels and ferrules

  • Popular with dog walkers


  • Gets busy! Arrive early and try to visit on a quiet day if you can


  • Great for spotting birds of prey

For More on the History


For an introductory read on the Wars of the Roses, try Dan Jones’ The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors.

For a more in-depth study, check out Richard, Duke of York: King by Right, by Matthew Gregory Lewis.


Check out The Battlefield Trust’s section on the Wars of the Roses here: https://www.battlefieldstrust.com/resource-centre/warsoftheroses/



For More on the Sites



Castle Grove Park: https://g.co/kgs/cinbda




Final Note


My husband spotted an information board near Chantry Bridge detailing a history-themed walk of Wakefield, focusing on Wakefield Artist Louisa Fennell. I’ll be sure to do this by crutch or wheelchair in warmer weather, and will report back to you all in another post.


Another relevant site is nearby Pontefract Castle, where the Duke of York’s prominent ally, Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury was taken after being captured in battle and later executed. The castle deserves a write-up of its own, so look out for that in the near future!

Until then, happy travels.



*Disclaimer: This blog is written as a travel blog with a disability focus and history theme. It is intended to entertain and inform but is in no way a comprehensive guide and I do not attempt to provide a full accessibility guide for any site. Readers planning to visit any sites should check site websites or contact sites directly for up-to-date information on opening times, facilities, accessibility and other required information.





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3 Comments


k.heads
Jan 03, 2022

This is brilliant Melissa. A book to accompany the website would be very useful.

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Melissa Speed
Melissa Speed
Jan 03, 2022
Replying to

Thank you! You're the second person to suggest an accompanying book today, so I will definitely consider it.

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mandy.goody
Dec 31, 2021

A very informative and comprehensive article. Thank you very much.

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