Back in the autumn of 2019, we were invited to host a visit from the West Yorkshire Lieutenancy , in May 2020, well, we all know what happened, a postponed visit, and the same again in 2021. Therefore, we were primed and ready with our partners to deliver Pontefract at it’s very best!

Working closely with partners who were prepared to show what Pontefract has to offer, collectively we created as comprehensive a programme as time allowed to see Pontefract in a day. All of this was possible with Pontefract Civic Society working with Wakefield Council (Mayor’s Office, town hall, museum, castle), St Giles Church, and Pontefract Heritage Group.

Mike Sayles-Fox DL and Patron of the civic society was co-host and he said, “Today a group of Deputy Lieutenants from around West Yorkshire had a wonderful town tour, conducted by members of the Civic Society. This showed their obvious pride in the town, which is well deserved, since it is clean and well-kept and seems to be a thriving centre of business. There is a strong community spirit, based upon partnerships between the public, private and voluntary sectors, which the Civic society has actively promoted.  They also visited the castle , Including the dungeons and were fascinated by the story”.

The Vice Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Tim Hare, accompanied by 10 Deputy Lieutenants and partners were treated to a well-informed, brisk heritage walk, and he said “without a doubt this was a great success, enjoyed by all; without a doubt, Pontefract will receive a very positive review.”

Comments from other DL’s included:

I knew almost nothing about Pontefract this week but now feel I know quite a lot and have learned of the existence of the most amazing castle”.

I cannot describe the incredible pleasure today’s visit to Pontefract has given me. I feel my eyes have been opened to a totally new place I did not know was on my doorstep. Thank you for all the organising you have done to make this visit happen”.

I have never before appreciated the extent of the history of the town and its influence on English history”.

We were delighted to visit the wonderful, beautifully renovated St Giles’ church which is a central hub, both of worship and of valuable community service”.

We loved the  beautiful museum entrance with its Burmantofts tiles and wonderfully preserved mosaic floor”.

The art of Rachel List in the museum and her Street Art in the town is inspiring. I admired her imagination in  recording the effects of the pandemic and loved her new Street art pieces, commemorating the Platinum Jubilee”.

All our tour guides were excellent and such enthusiastic people”!

The castle and its dungeons hold many past secrets and we had no idea that one licorice was grown in its bailey”!

I shall look at Nelson’s column with renewed interest on my next visit to Trafalgar Square”! 

We were both really impressed with the knowledge of the members of the Civic Society and we will definitely return together to take a longer look at the museum. It’s many years since I was last in St Giles Church but the conversions which they have done are incredible. Creating so much space within the Church building itself, I thought was so impressive not to mention the superb outreach into the community”.

Photographs courtesy of Medlock Pontefract

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