Sandal Castle

Visiting Sandal Castle

Built by William de Warrene, Sandal Castle was a fortress built in the 12th century. Over its life, it witnessed the Battle of Wakefield during the War of the Roses and was a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War. Following the civil war, the British Parliament disassembled it in 1646. Today, the remaining ruins are a popular picnic spot and boast the occasional reenactments. 


Parking alongside the road to Sandal Castle is prohibited and reserved strictly for emergency vehicles. For guests visiting the castle, there’s a small car park with limited spaces. While parking is free, there are fees for removing a vehicle left in the lot after closing. Despite the castle remaining open 24 hours a day, the car park does have seasonal hours.






  • 9 am - 5.30 pm (October – March)
  • 9 am – 7.45 pm (April to September)

Location and Access

  • Sandal Castle is located at Manygates Lane, Wakefield WF2 7DS, United Kingdom.
  • It’s a 10-minute walk from the nearest bus stop and a 20-minute walk from Sandal and Agbrigg Railway Station.
  • Wakefield FreeCityBus offers free transportation from 07.30-18.36 Monday-Friday and 08.30-17.00 on Saturday.

Know Before You Go

  • There are no guided tours available for Sandal Castle. Instead, infographic boards are placed strategically along the property to help immerse guests in the past.
  • The Castle Cafe on-site is a privately owned and operated establishment. Hours and availability vary. Call 01924 256751 ahead of your trip for the current hours of operation.
  • The Castle Cafe offers restroom facilities for paying customers. However, there are no changing tables on the premises. The nearest changing table is 1.9 mi (3.05 km) away at The Ridings Shopping Centre, WF2 1DS, United Kingdom.


Places To Stay Nearby

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Waterton Park Hotel

Kilometres from the Castle: 3.9 km (2.42 mi)

The Waterton Park Hotel is a 4-star hotel merely 7 minutes away from Sandal Castle. It majestically resides in rolling hills and offers a spa, golf course, and a relaxing private lake. In the centre of the lake is an island home to Walton Hall and 22 of the 63 bedrooms offered on the property.  

With leisure facilities, a seasonally fresh restaurant, and a romantic cottage available, this hotel is ideal for those seeking a high-class, romantic stay in the English countryside. 

Afternoon tea is served daily, in addition to a private bar overlooking the water. As with the spa and leisure facilities, guests should anticipate paying for participating in these amenities. 


The Mews Hotel

Kilometres from the Castle: 8.5 km (5.28 mi)

This 4.5 out of 5 rated hotel is full of historical charm and offers unique amenities. Built in a former rag-sorting warehouse, the Mews Hotel accommodates fourteen luxuriously furnished rooms ranging in size from single to double beds. Each room comes with access to a free house bar boasting hand-pulled ales, complimentary breakfast, and free wifi.

For guests searching for a cosy experience laced with extravagance, they need not look further. Aside from the welcoming fireplace and beautiful courtyard, the hotel also offers a superb restaurant that serves English meals with a fresh, modern spin. 


Redbeck Motel

Kilometres from the Castle: 10.6 km (6.58 mi)

The Redbeck Motel is a 4-star family-friendly establishment at a conservative price. The motel features the renowned Redbeck Restaurant, which is sure to please. With a full English Breakfast, free wifi, and free parking, families looking for an affordable English vacation have come to the right place. 

The motel has ensuite rooms, including single beds, twin beds, double beds, and family rooms. Students or visitors looking for an incredibly frugal stay should look into the motel’s single beds with shared washing facilities.  


History of Sandal Castle 

From modest beginnings as a motte and bailey earthenware fortress to a stone castle of formidable magnitude, Sandal Castle has seen the rise and fall of many noblemen. Once belonging to a critical instigator of the War of the Roses, a King, and a stronghold during the English Civil War, the ruins left behind whisper at the history it holds in its remaining stones.

Time Line


William de Warenne, the Second Earl of Surrey, is granted the Manor of Wakefield in return for his loyalty to Henry I during the Battle of Tinchebray.

-Circa 1106

About two miles (3.21 km) south of Wakefield, construction on Sandal Castle begins. The castle is a traditional motte and bailey fortification. 

-Circa 1130

Sandal Castle is completed somewhere around this time.

-Circa 1230

John de Warenne, Sixth Earl of Surrey, rebuilds Sandal Castle. On the motte, the human-made hill, he creates a stone keep with three towers. The area is rebuilt in the western side of the bailey, or the yard surrounding the motte, and a strong stone outpost known as a barbican is erected.


John de Warenne, Seventh Earl of Surrey, inherits Sandal Castle and other lands owned by the late Earl of Surrey in April 1306.

On 15 May 1306, John was offered Edward I’s granddaughter, Joan of Bar’s, hand in marriage. Despite being related, John, 19 years old, accepts and marries 10-year-old Joan on 25 May 1306. 

The couple split their time between Conisbrough Castle and Sandal Castle.


Edward II grants John de Warenne the ability to denote any person he desires to be the heir to his lands, leading to suspicions of marital issues. 


After seven years of marriage and no legitimate offspring, the Seventh Earl of Surrey openly lives with his mistress and the mother of his illegitimate children, Maud de Nerford. This starts a lengthy divorce battle that would last years.

John’s wife, Joan, leaves Conisbrough Castle for the Tower of London at the request of Edward II. 


Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, aids in blocking John de Warrene’s attempts at divorcing Joan. In addition, he convinces the Bishop of Chichester to prosecute John for adultery, leading to the Earl of Surrey’s excommunication from the church. 


In retaliation for his excommunication and failed divorce, the Earl of Surrey employs his knights to abduct Alice de Lacy, Thomas’s wife, in an attempt to humiliate him. 

While indifferent to his wife’s abduction, the Earl of Lancaster is insulted by the humiliation attempt. In response, he attacks Sandal Castle and takes control of it and Conisbrough Castle.


Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, is defeated during the Battle of Boroughbridge. This rebellion of barons against Edward II leads to Thomas’s execution for treason. Sandal Castle falls into the Crown’s possession.     


The Crown returns Sandal Castle and other possessed lands to the Warrane family.


The seventh Earl of Surrey passes away without naming any of his mistress’s children as successors. With no legitimate male heirs, the Warrene family dies out. Their lands, along with Sandal Castle, are once again controlled by the Crown.

The same year, Edward III bequeaths Sandal Castle to his son Edmund of Langley, the first Duke of York. 


Edmund of Langley dies, leaving Sandal Castle to his son Edward of Norwich, the second Duke of York.


The second Duke of York dies in the battle of Agincourt. Sandal Castle passes to his nephew, Richard of York, the third Duke of York in the absence of heirs. 


Henry VI has a severe mental breakdown, and his Queen, Margaret of Anjou, rules in his place and gives birth to an heir that October.


Margaret of Anjou is a highly unpopular ruler, and Parliament intervenes in March 1454 by appointing Richard of York as Lord Protector to rule over England. 

That December, Henry VI recovers and dismisses the Duke of York. In addition, Henry VI reinstates his Queen’s preferred candidate, the Duke of Somerset, to power.


The War of the Roses begins with the First Battle of St. Albans. Richard of York’s forces kills his rival, the Duke of Somerset. 

The Duke of York escorts a captured Henry VI to London and becomes the King’s chief adviser and Constable of England.

Henry VI’s mental health continues to deteriorate, and Richard of York once again is named Protector of the Realm.


Queen Margaret of Anjou ensures Richard of York is removed from his position following Henry VI’s recovery.


In July 1460, a lieutenant of Richard York, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, captured Henry VI at Northampton. An agreement is reached with Parliament ensuring that the Duke of York will succeed Henry VI, not Henry and Margaret’s son. The Act of Accord cements the Duke’s claim to the throne.

An angered Queen Margaret raises troops in the north, preparing to defeat Richard of York and reclaim her son’s right to the throne. Her troops set off for Sandal Castle. 

Despite an alleged truce, the Battle of Wakefield takes place on 30 December 1460. This results in the death of Richard of York. His son, Edward, Earl of March, continues vying for the throne and inherits the Dukedom and associated estates. 


After much bloodshed, Edward seizes the throne and becomes Edward VI. Sandal Castle becomes a Royal castle again. 

The castle would continue to be used to host the Council of the North throughout his reign.


Edward IV dies, and his son Edward V inherits his land and the throne. However, Edward IV’s brother seizes power and becomes King Richard III. 


Richard III orders Sandal Castle to be repaired and restores its ability to be a permanent residence. 


Richard III dies at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Henry VII takes his place, and Sandal Castle experiences neglect. 

The castle is rarely used except as a prison until the 16th century. 


Royalists partially refortified Sandal Castle during the Civil Wars. Sandal Castle surrendered on 1 October 1645.


Sandal Castle is stripped of its defences by the order of Parliament. The remaining stone is quarried and used for local projects.

Sandal Castle Occupants

Though neglected in more recent centuries, Sandal Castle was once a prominent fortress used by nobility and royalty alike. As such, the castle was used and even called home by several prestigious historical figures. 

As Sandal Castle was passed down through multiple lengthy lineages, many occupants were from the same few families. Several of these members include: 

  • William de Warrene, the Second Earl of Surrey
  • Elizabeth of Vermandois
  • William de Warrene, the Third Earl of Surrey, a Knight Crusader
  • Isabel de Warrene, the Fourth Countess of Surrey
  • Hamelin Plantagenet, otherwise known as Hamelin de Warrene, the Fifth Earl of Surrey
  • John de Warrene, the Sixth Earl of Surrey
  • John de Warrene, the Seventh Earl of Surrey
  • Joan of Bar
  • Edmund of Langley, the First Duke of York
  • Edward of Norwich, the Second Duke of York
  • Richard of York, the Third Duke of York

Images of Sandal Castle

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Images Supplied and licensed from Shutterstock Standard Licence Package

Sandal Castle Facts

Act 1, Scene II from Shakespeare’s King Henry VI Part 3 takes place in Sandal Castle. 

Richard of York died during the Battle of Wakefield on the castle’s grounds. In his memory, a monument was erected at the site.

A nursery rhyme titled The Grand Old Duke of York is allegedly inspired by Richard of York’s defeat at Wakefield.

Sandal Castle Q&A

Are Pets Allowed?

Furry friends are allowed, but they should be kept on a lead at all times for their safety. If you’re looking for lodging that’s pet-friendly in Wakefield, check out Bringfido. They have a great list of dog-friendly accommodations, many of which have zero pet fees.  

Can You Bring a Picnic?

Sandal Castle is well-renowned for its breathtaking views of the Yorkshire countryside and the River Calder. Visitors are allowed to bring lunch and stay the day picnicking on the grounds. However, BBQs are prohibited

For hungry guests without their picnic baskets, the Castle Cafe serves delicious breakfast and lunch options. Be sure to call 01924 256751 ahead, as hours and availability vary! 

Can You Access the Keep Platform?

For visitors wishing to explore the keep, there are a series of wooden steps to the top of the keep platform. Aside from this, guests can also explore the ruins using stone paths that line the perimeter of Sandal Castle.

While exploring, visitors can walk across the wooden bridge that spans the inner and outer moat. They’re also free to peruse the large grassy area that once was the castle.

Are There Tour Guides at the Castle?

Sandal Castle no longer offers guided tours following the closing of its visitor centre. However, infographic boards are spread across the property to help visitors learn about its storied history.

Location of Sandal Castle

Sandal Castle is located in Wakefield, a city of West Yorkshire in Northern England. It’s about 9 miles (14.48 km) south of Leeds and about 190 miles (305.77 km) north of London.  

Sandal Castle’s official address is Manygates Ln, Sandal, Wakefield WF2 7DS, United Kingdom.

Other Places To Visit Near Sandal Castle

When in Wakefield, be sure to make time for these other memorable locations. Local points of interest include a variety of museums and parks. 

Wakefield Museum 

An absolute must-see for visitors of Sandal Castle, the Wakefield Museum features artefacts from the castle grounds. This free museum is open Monday-Saturday to the public and offers various activities and educational resources sure to entertain the entire family.

Showcasing permanent and visiting exhibits, those looking for handicap accessible facilities are in the right place. 

Since it’s easy to lose track of time, the Wakefield Museum also offers a cafe for hungry guests to rest and refuel.

The Hepworth Wakefield

For art lovers visiting Wakefield, The Hepworth should be on the top of their lists. This modern art gallery opened in 2011 and is an architectural marvel and beauty. Not only designed to deliver stunning waterfront views, but the gallery also sources all of its heat and cooling from the River Calder’s flow. 

The Hepworth Wakefield displays modern and contemporary art and even hosts fairs and markets throughout the year. Admission is £12.00 for a standard adult ticket and £10.00 for seniors, the disabled, the unemployed, and students. Those under 16 receive free entry. 

Both the museum and its accompanying gift shop and cafe are open Wednesday-Sunday. The free garden and its cafe are open daily to the public. 

The Nostell Priory and Parkland 

Dog-owners and nature lovers rejoice! This beautiful gem in Nostell, just 12 minutes SE of Wakefield, is home to over 300 acres (1.21 sq. m) of gardens and parklands. Guests are treated to picturesque meadows, waterfalls, lakes, and even a kitchen garden. 

Pet-parents can explore the courtyard, the lower lake, and the cattle grazing fields with their furry friends. However, it’s required that your dog be kept on a lead at all times. There are areas where dogs are allowed without a lead, and they require close control.

These areas include the dog-run and parkland. The gardens, the mansion house, and the courtyard cafe are strictly pet-free. These pet-free areas do allow assistance dogs. 

To ensure pet lovers and their companions enjoy their visit, several pet waste bins, and doggy drinking bowls are provided on the grounds for their use.

Aside from the natural treasures present, a Georgian treasure house features six of the National Trust’s treasures. Examples include a world-class Chippendale furniture collection and a globally recognized dolls’ house. 

In addition, Nostell Priory and Parkland offers shopping seven days a week and an admission-required adventure play area for children.

Tickets are sold for the whole property, the gardens and play area, or the house. For whole property access, guests can expect to pay £12.00 for adults, £6.00 for children, £30.00 for families, and £33.00 for families with an extra adult.