West Yorkshire market town of Pontefract
 
Advertisements
 
 
 
Pontefract Local History

PONTEFRACT CASTLE

Compiled from the writings of the late Richard H. H. Holmes.

THE PORTER'S LODGE

At this point however, whereas the modern visitor takes a short cut to the left to gain the castle interior, through a modern gateway, the ancient caller made his way a little further (along the modern Castle Chain) before his track turned north into a steep approach barely wide enough for two horsemen abreast. Security all the time was only too plainly the planners motto, for this narrow way was straddled and enveloped by the massive buildings of the Porter’s Lodge, in the heart of which was the portcullis gate. Of the gate itself no trace or relic remains to-day but the grooves in which it was raised and lowered rigidly across the track can be plainly discerned in the stones forming the bases of the remains of these very solid buildings.

A little imagination soon puts on these foundations quite a clear picture. In the centre would be the solid door of massive oaken timbers iron bound and studded, flanked by masonry of prodigious thickness with narrow slits at safe and cunning positions so that the holders of the castle might at their convenience study their visitors as they awaited admission – or might repel them if they endeavoured to enforce it.

About and above would be the solidity of the rest of the Porter’s Lodge – a stout tower at each side with a wall, or more likely, chambers between them, over the portcullis opening.

Let it not be overlooked that to raise and lower the heavy portcullis would require chains, counterweights and cranks, with several men to manage and manipulate them. Doubtless some of these men had their dwelling in the buildings at this point, serving in turn as blacksmith’s or builder’s, armourers, sentries, or just plain labourers, as occasion demanded : for it seems reasonable to assume that in peace or war a great deal of activity and strength would at all times be concentrated in or near the gatehouse, or Porter’s Lodge. There appears to be some ground for the belief that this gate forms part of the basis of the ‘Bird on Gate’ mark used, even now, on all genuine Pomfret Cakes, and it is certainly the basis of the design forming the seal of Pontefract Corporation.

Having now attained the Castle yard it might perhaps be well to turn from it for a little while and make a tour of the main walls of the place. Using then, the modern entrance drive in reverse, and leaving behind us the ruins of the Porter’s Lodge and those of the Round Tower on the right, we can pass round the end of what remains of the great flanking wall which at one time formed the western end of the Inner Barbican, with probably a gateway in it, across the drive from the drawbridge to the portcullis.


PONTEFRACT CASTLE INDEX                NEXT>


 

Site constructed and maintained by Michael Norfolk
This website is Copyright © 2005-2013 [www.pontefractus.co.uk] All Rights Reserved
| HOME PAGE | SITE INDEX | LETTERS | MEMORIES | PHOTO GALLERY | GENEALOGY | LATEST PHOTOS |
| KNOTTINGLEY AND FERRYBRIDGE ONLINE | YORKSHIRE ANCESTRY | IMAGES OF YORKSHIRE |
SELBY GARDEN RAILWAY | OO GAUGE GARDEN RAILWAY |