1 October 2016

Sandal

Sandal Castle ruins rise on the horizon, looking over the lake at Pugneys Country Park
In bygone times, disused English castles were commonly treated as stone quarries by local builders. There was no sentimentality or hesitation. They arrived with carts and hauled the stone away leaving tumbledown ruins behind them. Here in the city of Sheffield, we once had a large and significant castle. It stood on a bend of The River Don and played an important role in the history of northern England for four hundred years. But when it fell into disuse, almost all the castle's thousands of stone blocks were pilfered. Today, only the foundations remain to hint at once was.

Twenty miles north of Sheffield is the much smaller city of Wakefield. It was once the county town of The West Riding of Yorkshire and is rich in history. It had two strategically important castles. In the shadow of one of them, Sandal Castle, The Battle of Wakefield occurred on December 30th 1460, during the Wars of the Roses.
Twenty three years after that bloody battle, King Richard III decided that Sandal Castle would become his northern stronghold. He ordered many improvements to the castle that had by 1483 been in existence for over three hundred and fifty years. However, in 1485 Richard died at the Battle of Bosworth Field in Warwickshire so consequently his occupancy of Sandal Castle was short-lived.

A hundred and eighty years after Richard III's death, Sandal Castle was a Royalist base during the English Civil War and was besieged at least three times by Parliamentary forces. From that time onwards, the castle fell into disrepair and right up to the middle of the nineteenth century it was still being used as a convenient stone quarry by local people whose main objects in life did not include the preservation of historical buildings.

I am telling you all of this because I visited Sandal Castle yesterday. The text is just background to my photographs. You can see how little of the original construction remains - but enough to give an evocative sense of the location and what once was. You can almost hear the battle cries.
Sandal Castle looking to Emley Moor telecommunications mast

21 comments:

  1. Interesting post, Yorkie...interesting history.

    I guess the upkeep of such wonderful old buildings, unique reminders of the days of yore would be astronomical...but, still...it is such a shame that only ruins are left.

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    1. As Australia doesn't have any old ruins, perhaps generous Australian communities could adopt old castles in Britain and pay for their repair and upkeep. "Sandal Castle - sponsored by Tamborine Mountain, Queensland" sounds splendid. Why not sound out readers of "The Tamborine Times" or organise a jumble sale?

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    2. I'm an old ruin. I guess I could organise a jumble sale of my own, for myself! Good suggestion, Yorkie! :)

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  2. I spotted your title and read it as Scandal! Only mildly disappointed as I like looking at an old ruin.

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    1. I am resisting the bait that your last remark has served up on a plate Sue!

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  3. You don't suppose that Sue is hinting that you might be 'the ruin ' she has in mind - do you :-) ?

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    1. What a frightful insinuation you cad!

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  4. I am surprised that you would mention Wakefield without also mentioning The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith. Not that it has anything at all to do with what you did write about, just surprised that you didn't mention it.

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    1. Okay Bob. I will mention it now. Oliver Goldsmith wrote "The Vicar of Wakefield" but I must confess that I have never read it. Does the city of Wakefield figure in the novel?

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  5. I'm not sure what to think on this one. If all the castles were kept it would be a large enterprise. On the other hand they we abandoned so the stone was there for the taking.

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    1. To tell you the truth Red, I find ruined castles more evocative and interesting than complete ones. In most respects, I am happy that things turned out this way.

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  6. This was true of so many old buildings wasn't it YP? Everything was recycled if it could be.
    We have an old welsh dresser in our kitchen and it has obviously been made from something else as the inside of all the cupboards is carved wood which looks as though it might have come from some old stately home or church in the past. I would love to know where it came from.

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    1. How intriguing! How did you come across the dresser?

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  7. I love those places, they are so mystic. You were lucky to spend time alone there without many tourists around. Only then we can soak up the history of the place. I remember, years ago we visited the site of the Culloden Battle in spring on a cold, windy and rainy day, we thought to hear the sounds of the battle, the very impressive.

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    1. I have also been to the battlefield at Culloden and like you I heard the echoes of the dead.

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  8. Oh dear, it looks like your comments have been spammed. Nevertheless, interesting stuff about Sandal Castle. I wonder just how many buildings of significance were lost before we finally decided they were worth preserving in the last fifty years or so. Even then there is always the money available to do them justice. I'm thinking of the Old Hall chapel in Dukinfield that I've written about before for which no funds have been forthcoming.

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    1. Yes. I remember you blogging about that building. The issue raises such questions as - How much should we live in the past? How much of the past is worth preserving?

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    2. Good question, especially in these straitened times. But we only get one chance at preserving these places, else they go the way of those enterprising quarrymen.

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  9. Hard to imagine what a horrendous place it must have been during those battles.

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    1. There would certainly have been no ambulances with flashing lights whisking casualties off to hospitals.

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  10. The second photo is a knockout is with the darkening skies and the remnants of the past still standing to remind people of the impermanence of just about everything.

    Alphie

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.