Pomfret, Pomfret! O thou bloody prison,
Fatal and ominous to noble peers!
Within the guilty closure of thy walls
Richard the second here was hack’d to death;
Pontefract Castle lies in ruins,apparently the locals welcoming its destruction by Parliamentarians in the civil war .And yet it still belongs to the Queen . High up on a rock surrounded by traffic and suburbia it lies at peace .The residents are now rid of the fighting it attracted for centuries. A place of conflict,royal murder, intrigue and politics it was destroyed 100 years after the sacking of the havens of peace that were the monasteries.
Pontefract Castle is reported to be the place of Catherine Howard’s adultery which led to her beheading Perhaps it does have something to do with the sacking of the monasteries .A king with six wives was not going to please the church in Rome . But the monasteries enraged him by paying their tithes to Rome and not to the home coffers . Here in Pontefract there is no sign of the Cluniac Priory surrendered to King Henry VIII on 23 November 1540 . It had stood for 450 years , small but a place for up to 40 monks and a Christian presence next to the bustling castle .Stop to think awhile and hear the history in the station name Pontefract Monkhill .If this monastery had been founded the day it surrendered and lasted as long ,it would have closed just three years ago .It was here for a long long time .
I work near here and had wanted to see the site and remember. And in betwen the driving around also remember Nostell Priory. A name in National Trust ownership and a Robert Adam house paid for by coal deposits beneath .The priory gone but held in the sub conscience.
Both priories too ruined to be on my bike trip, I have mixed sentiments of amazement that the history is so close , but an anger that suburbia squeezes around and the priories are obliterated .Such influence and importance reduced to an A road and a Shell garage with Costa .Peace is now offered by the low walls of a once bloody and very important castle.The wall of Pontefract’s Saxon Church a nod to a much longer Christian heritage on the site (photo) />