King Charles III coronation celebrations could be broadcast at Yorkshire castle
A senior councillor on Wakefield Council has confirmed plans are underway to make Pontefract’s famous medieval ruins a focus for the royal celebrations. Pontefract Castle is part of the Duchy of Lancaster, a private estate owned by King Charles.
Michael Graham, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, described the site as the “perfect location” for residents to celebrate the occasion.
Coun Graham was asked about the local authority’s coronation plans during a question and answer session with residents live on Facebook.
He said: “We will definitely be having something in terms of screening the event and allowing people to come and watch. The location hasn’t been decided yet. But I will say that the Queen, before she sadly passed away, owned Pontefract Castle and I think it has passed into the hands of King Charles. So that is the perfect location to hold a coronation event, in my opinion. It is definitely something we will be looking at.”
The coronation is scheduled to take place on May 6 at Westminster Abbey.
Coun Graham added: “The last celebration we had that linked to the royal family had small events going on right across the district. Plans are not finalised yet but it would be really good to have all our community groups doing that kind of thing again, because it is one big celebration. As soon as we have the plans we will get them out to everyone.”
During the Middle Ages Pontefract Castle was considered one of the greatest fortresses in England. A wooden castle was built on the site after the Norman Conquest by the de Lacy family, who remained there until the 14th century and rebuilt it in stone. It was inherited by Thomas 2nd Earl of Lancaster, in 1311.
Thomas launched an opposition to Edward II. He was eventually put on trial at Pontefract Castle, found guilty of treason and executed there in 1322. In 1399 Pontefract Castle became a royal castle when Henry Bolingbroke took the throne as Henry IV. As the principle royal castle in the north of England, it was used to hold important prisoners.
Richard II was held captive in the castle and died there in suspicious circumstances. In his play ‘Richard II’, Shakespeare refers to the castle as ‘Bloody Pomfret’. Other prisoners of note who were held in the castle were James I of Scotland and Charles, Duc d’Orleans, who was captured during the battle of Agincourt in 1415. In later years, Richard III, while Duke of Gloucester, kept Pontefract Castle as one of his official residences.
Pontefract Castle also played a major role in the English Civil War, acting as one of the last Royalist strongholds. It was during this period that the castle suffered ruin and dilapidation until it was finally demolished in 1649.
Today the remains of the castle and the underground magazine chamber are open to visitors. The underground magazine was used for storing liquorice root, gunpowder and prisoners during the Civil War.
The site is now managed by Wakefield Council