Historic England awards further £100K to Pontefract Castle

22/08/2017, PR8635

​Historic England has awarded a grant of £108,400 to Wakefield Council to ensure the public will be able to get inside the Sally Port at Pontefract Castle for the first time in more than 350 years.

Cllr Speight with schoolchildren at a dig at Pontefract Castle
Cllr Speight with schoolchildren at a dig at Pontefract Castle

​Work to the Sally Port forms part of the £3.5 million Key to the North project, made possible thanks to support from National Lottery players.  The area has been excavated to enable public access for the first time since 1649.  However, once excavated it was discovered that a retaining wall, thought to be there, did not exist.  This has left the structure unstable and work in this area of the site had to stop.

Cllr Jacquie Speight, Portfolio holder for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: "We are very grateful to Historic England for the additional grant, which will cover 80% of the cost of building a retaining wall.  Work had to stop on the Sally Port once we realised it was unstable and before we were awarded this funding it looked as though the only option would be to fill the area back in.

"Thanks to Historic England visitors will still be able to access the Sally Port once work to the monument is completed at the end of this year."

Neil Redfern, Principal Inspector of Ancient Monuments for Historic England said: "Pontefract Castle has played a pivotal role in the history of England. From struggles to claim and keep the English crown to suffering the longest siege of any place in the 17th Century Civil Wars, Pontefract Castle is very much the Key to the North.

"Over the past two years it has also been one of the country's largest conservation projects, which Historic England has been very pleased to support. The current work to stabilise the Sally Port will ensure this fascinating part of the Castle can be seen and enjoyed by the public for the first time in hundreds of years."

The remaining 20% of the cost of the works is coming from the project fund.  In order to balance the budget, a planned staircase into the Sally Port will no longer be built but visitors will still be able to get inside from the back of the curtain wall. Building the retaining wall also means there is a possibility of the staircase being built in the future as part of another project.

The latest repair grant brings the Historic England contribution to the Key to the North project to more than £600K.  The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has contributed £3.04 million with additional funding from Wakefield Council, the Wolfson Foundation and landfill charity EpaC.

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