Demand for information on this important castle is increasing all the time. Sometimes this is from groups such as the Richard lll Society, the English Civil War Society and the Sealed Knot Society. Sometimes it is for a Brownie badge or for the annual school summer project. We even have to deal with queries from the Library of Congress about a picture of the site of the death of Richard II. More often than not inquirers are just interested in their national or local history
First built after the Norman Conquest, Pontefract Castle grew substantially and lasted until the end of the Civil War. Though it largely survived the fighting, in 1649 it was thoroughly demolished at the request of the local residents.
Since then it has been very difficult to picture what it had been like as over 90% of the site has never been excavated. Only a few pictures were done ‚€œfrom life‚€Ě. These precious few have spawned groups of prints which gradually altered and became less accurate over the years like in the game ‚€œchinese whispers‚€Ě. Many views were also apparently done by artists who did not visit Pontefract first and did not know its particular topography. (This can be seen is in the Victorian illustrations for Shakespeare‚€™s play ‚€œRichard II‚€Ě where the king is murdered in front of a generic castle backdrop).
Official emblems with Pontefract Castle have also been included as have the commercial firms who used the castle to give their product an air of high standing or company longevity by association with an ancient royal castle.
We have gathered together all the evidence that we are permitted to put on the site (only two or three important pictures need to be accessed via the National Archive and the Queen‚€™s Picture Collection).
If you have a print we have not shown, a postcard of the site or a wedding photograph using the castle as a romantic backdrop we would love to be shown them. Please contact Pontefract Museum on (01977 722740) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.