The Wakefield Medieval Portaloo!

In Wakefield Museum there is a rather unusual artefact–a late medieval chamber pot that was discovered in the ruins of Sandal Castle. This would be an unusual find at the best of times, but what makes this porta-potty even more interesting and special is that is is mounted with the large figure of a boar! Could this rather personal item have belonged to Richard III or some high-ranking follower and was inadvertently left behind after the King’s visit to the castle in June 1484?

After he became King, Richard had great plans for Sandal Castle as a power-base and the seat of the Council of the North. To facilitate this, he did some substantial rebuilding, including adding a polygonal tower, a bakehouse and a brewhouse. (The foundations of the former two buildings still remain.)

“John Wodevore Receyvor of Wakefeld: A warrant to thauditors of Wakefeld to allowe to the said John such sommes of money as he shal employe in making of a towre of new in the Castel of sandhall. Dated 3rd June in the first year. “

Source: R. Horrox and P. W. Hammond (eds.), British Library Harleian Manuscript 433 Volume II (Upminster, 1979-82), p. 137.

Any further plans Richard had for Sandal came to nothing when he was killed at Bosworth in 1485, and the Tudors let the castle fall into decay after brief use as a prison. It was ruined further during the Civil War.


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