Parade marks the Battle of Wakefield

19th September 2010. Celebrations to mark the 550th anniversary of the Battle of Wakefield at Sandal Castle. 15th Centuary archer Mick Doggett prepares for battle.
19th September 2010. Celebrations to mark the 550th anniversary of the Battle of Wakefield at Sandal Castle. 15th Centuary archer Mick Doggett prepares for battle.

One of the fiercest battles in the War of the Roses claimed hundreds of lives on district soil. And each of them will be honoured in a memorial parade commemorating the Battle of Wakefield, 557 years to the day it was fought.

On December 30, members of the Friends of Sandal Castle will join the Harrington Household and Frei Compagnie medieval re-enactors for a procession from the city centre to Sandal Castle. The route will take them past memorials to Richard Duke of York and his son Edmund Earl of Rutland, who were killed in the battle, on December 30 1460.

The clash, over who was next in line to the throne, took place between the Duke’s 5,000-strong Yorkist army, who had spent Christmas at Sandal Castle, and 15,000 Lancastrian soldiers loyal to King Heny VI, who had marched to confront them after spending the season in Pontefract.

Dr Keith Souter, chairman of the Friends of Sandal Castle, said: “It is the first time that there has been a memorial march on the anniversary and it seems a very apt thing to do. We are very excited about it.

“The Battle of Wakefield was one of the most significant in English history. It was one of the major battles in the power struggles between the House of York and the House of Lancaster

“It is immensely important to remember it and this procession gives us the opportunity to honour all those who died.”

The walk will begin at Wakefield Cathedral at 12.30pm and will make its way to Chantry Chapel, where white roses will be laid at the memorial plaque to the Earl of Rutland. Marchers will then continue to the Duke of York’s memorial, where more roses will be laid, and then on to Sandal Castle for a service by the Bishop of Wakefield.

Re-enactors, dressed in medieval costume will then demonstrate fighting techniques.

Sharon Whitaker, a Harrington Household member, was the brainchild behind the parade with her husband Lee. They wanted to stage a “positive” event at the castle, despite part of the monument being fenced off and in need of repair. “I can’t wait to get marching,“ Mrs Whitaker said.