Last month saw some dramatic developments at Wakefield’s important local Wars of the Roses and English Civil War site. Yes, Sandal Castle has been hitting the headlines - albeit for unhappy reasons – and as you can see in Richard Taylor's photo (left), nearly 90 people including re-enactors from the Frei Compagnie, Savile and Oxford households, turned out last Tuesday for a photocall to show our support (the item was published in Wakefield Express on Friday 30th September).
You can find full details and images on the Friends of Sandal Castle Facebook page and in my latest blog, ‘Sandal Castle: Ruination of a Famous Ruin’, but in a nutshell, shortage of funds has led to closures and neglect at the site, leading in turn to abuse, vandalism and damage to the monument - ironic, considering the millions currently being spent on stone conservation and spanky new visitor facilities 9 miles down the road at Pontefract Castle! It's certainly attracted a lot of publicity: on the right you can see journalist Tracy Gee interviewing concerned residents and Friends including Dr. Keith Souter for the Liz Green show on BBC Radio Leeds (broadcast on Friday 30th). Good news for today is that one of the vandals believed to be responsible for the graffiti attack has now been arrested; and the Friends group will shortly hold an emergency committee meeting to decide on the best course of action to try and rescue this well-loved local site. Watch this space!
On a happier note, Hubcap and I celebrated our 9th ‘pottery’ wedding anniversary on 2nd October, not by buying ceramics but with a trip to gorgeous historic Castleford in the Peak District National Park. Mick had always wanted to take me to Peveril Castle which dominates the town, but prior to my hip-op, the long steep ascent would have been completely beyond me. Happily, this is no longer the case – and although my thigh muscles complained about it, the spectacular views from the top (right) made it well worth the climb (and the admission fee for non-English Heritage members). The bijou little keep (left) is intact for much of its height although the fine facing stone has been largely robbed away; and despite its incredible defensive position, Peveril functioned primarily as a centre for administration and justice for the Lords
of the Peak, (an office once held by Prince John, Brother of Richard the Lionheart). Then after our bracing walk around the impressive hilltop ruins, we went down to what lies directly beneath the castle: the Peak Cavern, colloquially known as 'the Devil's Arse' thanks to the extremely loud and rude noises which issue from it at times of flood, when air becomes trapped and compressed until it eventually forces its way out! By then we were too tired to do anything more than eat a huge meal at a local pub - but there are so many other caves and wonderful sites to see in the immediate environs that I'm sure we'll be amking another trip to Castleton before long.
25th October SUCCESSES AT SANDAL CASTLE!
Following on from my previous post about problems at Sandal Castle (see below), I'm delighted to report a number of positive developments which have taken place since. For starters, after a well-supported campaign of lobbying the Niantic Corporation, 'Pokemon Go' has gone from the Inner Bailey (Pokemon hunters were among the people climbing on, and damaging, the earthworks). CCTV cameras have been installed at the site, security patrols stepped up, and a dedicated police hotline set up for the reporting of anti-social behaviour (just call 03458 506506 if you see anything going on there which shouldn't be going on!). And tomorrow brings an opportunity to protest about the perennial problem of dog-fouling at the site: a photo-call for responsible dog-owners to raise awareness of the issue, and to enourage those currently less responsible and public-spirited dog-owners to use the bins provided and clean up after their pets.
This is all good news for everyone who cares about this beautiful historic site - and if you'd like to know more, check out the Friends of Sandal Castle Facebook page for regular news updates and photographs.