Houses of Interest: West Yorkshire
See also the Rupert Travelogue entry for Yorkshire, and the entry for Adwalton Moor
Oakwell Hall was the inspiration for Charlotte Brontë's Fieldhead in "Shirley". More recently it has been used a number of times as a film set, including "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell".
Located close to the M62 and the Leeds branch of purgatory on Earth (aka Ikea), this Tudor manor house is beautifully maintained by Kirklees Borough Council.
The hall is presented as a seventeenth century home. I really like this approach, as so often historic houses have different rooms decorated for different eras, so it is really nice to see a house presented from one era in it's entirety.
Oakwell was in the ownership of the Batt family, who supported the King; John Batt was a captain and most probably fought at Adwalton Moor. The retreating Parliamentarian troops passed along Warren Lane (adjacent to the house) after the battle.
After the Royalist defeat at Marston Moor, John Batt surrendered the house to Black Tom in order to keep his family safe. John paid a fine of £364 to reclaim the estate in 1649.
What's there today?
As I have already mentioned, the whole house is presented as a seventeenth century residence.
One room documents the whole history of the house and has some cannon balls and musket shot from Adwalton Moor on display.
A fine portrait of Newcastle hangs in one of the rooms.
Of course there is a tea room (this is Yorkshire, it's a tea room not a café!) and gift shop.
The ECWS have assisted the Council with the Hall, and there are some Civil War themed gates into the shop and function room courtyard: resplendent with helmets, swords and breastplates.
Whilst in Bradford, take a visit to St Peter's Cathedral on Stott Hill where there is a plaque commemorating the sieges of Bradford.
Pontefract Castle was a Royalist stronghold, and would be besieged three times. The first siege (December 1644 – early March 1645) saw the castle undermined and bombarded: the Pier Tower collapsed as a result, but the siege would be lifted when Langdale arrived with the Northern Horse. The siege would resume a few days later, the garrison surrendering on hearing the news from Naseby in June.
|This display board explains that the kitchens were possibly utilised as a mint for siege coins|
|A display of replica uniforms in the visitor centre|
|The Piper Tower: look carefully and you can see three cannonball impact craters in a line (a clue: find the one in the central one in the recess first, there's one on either side)|
Parliament’s men would garrison the Castle, until June 1648, when Royalists took over the Castle by stealth rather than a show of arms. November 1648 the Castle would be besieged by the New Modelled Army; which saw tales of intrigue and murder (see the Doncaster entries in Houses of Interest:South Yorkshire)
The Castle would eventually surrender in March 1649 (after the execution of Charles), and it would be ordered to be slighted not long after.
What’s there now?
The Castle is beautifully cared for by the local council. Free to enter, there is visitor centre and café. The visitor centre has a number of artefacts found in the Castle grounds. It is possible to visit the castle’s dungeons (for which there is a charge) but only at weekends and on bank holidays. There is some graffiti dating from the Civil War visible in the dungeon. There is a guided tour app which is free to download. Signage and interpretation boards uses a Civil War theme throughout.
The Chequerfield battlefield has been lost under development. There is no visible evidence or memorial marking the events that took place here.
Pontefract Museum has a number of Civil War related items on display, most notably the Ackworth hoard.
|Pontefract Castle by Alexander Keirincx, commissioned by Charles I in 1639/40|
|Part of the Ackworth Hoard|
|Colonel John Bright's armour...|
|Not often you see a cabasset|
Battle of Seacroft Moor, 30th March 1643. The Fairfaxes (both father and son) had been engaged in a war of manoeuvres with Newcastle’s Royalist forces in early 1643. Sir Thomas found himself returning to Leeds from Tadcaster when he was met by a cavalry heavy force led by Goring. Thomas’s men were predominantly clubmen, rather than conventionally equipped soldiers. Goring’s cavalry repeatedly attacked the tail of Fairfax’s column; the men were in some disarray when Goring’s men openly attacked at Seacroft. The Parliamentarian’s took a drumming, some 200 fell, and 800 were taken prisoner.
|The view towards the A64 from Langbar Close (a sneaky bit of scrambling/trespassing across Cock Beck afford you this view)|
What’s there now?
The name ‘Seacroft Moor’ causes us a few problems as there was/is no such place as ‘Seacroft Moor’; our knowledge of the battle relies heavily upon Sir Thomas Fairfax’s account, and he was no local. We do know that he was marching his men from Tadcaster towards Leeds, along a route that is more or less the route of the modern A64. We know that his army had passed through Bramham Moor, so the clues are pointing to Whinmoor Moor, which is/was close to Seacroft. Another contemporary report has Cock Beck being turned red with the blood of the fallen. It is more than likely that the farmland to the south of the A64, where it crosses Grimes Dyke, towards Scholes is the location of the battle. Until there is an archaeological survey of the area, sadly we shall not know for certain. There are no battlefield markers (not surprisingly), nor anything else to remind us of the slaughter that took place here. The road is phenomenally busy and fast, possibly one to view from satellite imagery on the internet. A footpath runs alongside Cock Beck, accessible from Langbar Close LS14 5EB.
Howley Hall: the Parliamentarian command met at Howley Hall to plan an attack on Wakefield (in response to the debacle at Seacroft Moor) in May 1643.
In response to the Wakefield attack, Royalist forces would march to take Bradford a month later. On route, to prevent the Howley garrison launching a rearguard action, they laid siege to the Hall; the building somehow survived relatively unscathed.
The Royalists would eventually be met by Ferdinando Fairfax, who unsuccessfully attempted to head-off the Bradford assault, at Adwalton Moor (see here )What’s there now?
The Hall fell into disrepair in the eighteenth century and is now a ruin, situated on the edge of Howley Hall Golf Club. The atmospheric (blink and you’ll miss them) ruins can be accessed by a footpath from Howley Mill Lane. Under no circumstances, believe the information on the Discover Leeds website that states that you can park close to the path on Howley Mill Lane. The locals have gone to very great lengths to ensure that you can’t park here. I can't stress this enough, trust me, there is no parking available on Howley Mill Lane (or turning space if you are foolish enough to think 'I wonder if it has changed, we'll just go and have a look'). The postcode I have given gets you to Howley Mill Lane, you’ll have to park on the road wherever you decide it is safe to do so. I parked on Batley Field Hill, not too far away.
|Heath Hall, scene of 'the bowling'|
Fairfax would split his force and attack down Northgate and Warrengate. The attack on Warrengate would be the turning point: Fairfax’s men captured an artillery piece intact, turning it on the defenders. This opened up a large enough entry point for his cavalry. This cannon would be moved to All Saints Church (now Wakefield Cathedral) to fire upon the men defending the market place. They would be offered the chance to surrender, but initially refused. Heavy fire from the cannon and musket quickly helping them change their mind.
What’s there now?
Needless to say the battlefield has been lost to development.
All Saints Church has been promoted to be Wakefield Cathedral, it would suffer considerable damage during the Commonwealth.
|The Elizabethan Gallery|
Both Northgate and Warrengate have been redeveloped, they mostly follow the same routes that existed in C17th. The market place has been built over and has been rebranded as the ‘market quarter’.
|The view up Warrengate towards the Cathedral|
Wakefield Museum has a small number of artefacts on display (and some really grumpy rude security people): a window from Heath Hall, and a few fragments from swords and armour recovered from Sandal Castle.
|Old Heath Hall glass|
|The remains of swords|
Sandal Castle, on the outskirts of Wakefield was by passed by Fairfax’s men during the battle. The castle was a ruin, but had its defences bolstered by earthworks. It was garrisoned by about 90 men. The castle would be besieged twice during 1645, before it eventually surrendered in October of that year.
|A bastion earthwork built to house cannon, which were never delivered|
Postcodes for SatNavs
Leeds Central Library, Calverley Street LS1 3AB
Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery, University of Leeds LS2 9JT
All Saints Church, Pontefract WF8 2JL
Pontefract Museum, Pontefract WF8 1BA
Chequerfield, The Circle WF8 2AY
Seacroft Moor: A64 York Road LS14 2BL
Seacroft Moor: Langbar Close LS14 5EB
Howley Hall Ruins, access from Howley Mill Lane WF17 0BL
Wakefield Museum, Mulberry way WF1 2UP
Wakefield Cathedral, Northgate WF1 1PJ
Northgate WF1 3AY
Warrengate WF1 1SA
Elizabethan Gallery, Brooke Street WF1 1QW
Sandal Castle Manygates Lane, WF2 7DS