The Towton Battlefield Society (TBS) is a registered charity led by Chairman Mark Taylor. The TBS comprises a diverse mix of members who volunteer their time and skills to work tirelessly to achieve the objectives of the society. The main objectives are to protect and preserve the battlefield, and to promote education and research into medieval history, particularly in relation to the battle of Towton.
The TBS are a very friendly group of people with evident passion for what they do. The monthly meetings held in Saxton Village Hall are always interesting and varied, with expert guest speakers on a wide range of subjects from medieval Christianity to Oliver Cromwell’s head to name just a couple! Visitors are always welcome to the meetings and they really make you feel at home if you do just turn up unannounced.
Battlefield Walks and the Rockingham Arms
The society tries to offer two guided battlefield walks per month, starting and ending at the Rockingham Arms pub in Towton. These walks are free of charge and open to anybody, with donations gratefully received. The walk has been beautifully illustrated with information boards at different points along the route, and with the guide, makes for a very interesting and informative stroll on a Sunday morning.
The Rockingham Arms is also home to the TBS with rooms upstairs being generously let to them. The rooms are used in a variety of ways by the society with a library available for members and a space for people such as the tapestry group to meet. The pub itself is a fantastic country pub with great links to the community. The new owners Jonathan and Heather Rose, along with front of house manager Callum Smith recently celebrated the 1st anniversary of their business by holding a party for friends and locals with complimentary bubbly and canapés.
The ‘Rock’ as it is affectionately referred to by its customers is very supportive of the TBS, selling maps of the battlefield, and welcoming walkers for a well earned drink and bite to eat after their hike around the site. The food is fantastic – the high quality local ingredients are evident in every mouthful. Jonathan and Heather clearly understand the importance of using fresh produce with the fruit and veg locally sourced just 6 miles away in Cawood, the meat from Wetherby and the fish coming from Whitby and Scarborough. A visit to Towton would be greatly enhanced by a visit to the Rockingham arms.
As well as the monthly meetings and days out, the TBS have something for everyone. Every 3rd Sunday of the month there is an open to all archery gathering at the Crooked Billet pub on Wakefield Road, Saxton. They have bows suitable for everyone including children to try out under the expert guidance of experienced archers and members of the TBS. This is of course weather dependent but highly recommended as great fun to try!
There is also the Towton Tapestry Group which members of the TBS with creative interests have set up. This is a fantastic project to create a tapestry recording the battle of Towton and the modern influences on the people of today, using a variety of creative sewing methods such as appliqué and the traditional medieval style used in the Bayeux Tapestry. This will be a long term project utilising the varying creative abilities of the members in order to produce something that will hopefully be treasured for years to come, and can be displayed for visitors to enjoy. After months of tireless planning, designing and practicing stitches, the final planned design for the tapestry will be revealed at this year’s Palm Sunday re-enactment event.
Battle of Towton Commemoration Event
This year’s event will be held on Sunday 13th April from 9:30 – 16:00. This is a fantastic family event including battlefield walks, living history, battle re-enactment and much more. Set up on the land behind Towton Hall is a medieval market/camp with traders, falconry, sword fighting, craft stalls and refreshments.
For more information about the Towton Battlefield Society visit their website; www.towton.org.uk
The Yorkshire Reporter is proud to be holding a stall this year, to give out our papers and chat to our readers. Please come and say hello and meet the dedicated team behind West Yorkshire’s largest free publication!
I would like to thank all the experts who contributed to this feature sharing all their various talents and knowledge – who have helped to make this a broader, more interesting read I hope!
George Goodwin who wrote the fantastic first article in the feature has kindly donated a copy of ‘Fatal Colours’ for a lucky reader to win. This is one of the best books written on the subject of Towton, and is suitable for both people with no prior knowledge of the subject and those who already know the events of 1461.