The Towton campaign began after the Yorkists lost the Battle of Wakefield on December 30th 1460. Edward, son of Richard of York

marched on London from the Welsh Marches at the same time as Queen Margaret (Wife of Henry VI) and while Edward was crossing

the Cotswolds, Margaret fought and beat the Yorkist Earl of Warwick at St.Albans before retreating back to York. Edward became

Edward IV and sent his men Northwards and by the time they reached Darrington they numbered 40,000. On March 27th 1461 the Yorkists

occupied Ferrybridge but were surprised in the night by a Lancastrian force under Clifford. Next day Edward sent Lord Fauconberg with a

force of mounted archers upstream to cross the Aire at Castleford and outflank Clifford who had kept up a heavy pressure on the

Lancastrians at Ferrybridge but had to retreat as Fauconberg came into sight. Clifford was caught and killed at Dintingdale in full

view of the Lancastrian army who stayed watching from the ridge. By the evening the Yorkists had occupied Saxton Village and the

Lancastrians occupied Towton. Margaret had been advised by Somerset to fight Edward on the triangular plateau between Saxton and

Towton. On the cold snowy morning of Palm Sunday, March 29th 1461, both sides were up and ready for battle unaware of the

approaching bad weather. Somerset with 60,000 men was so confident of victory he gave the order ‘NO QUARTER’. As the

fighting began the blizzard set in helping the Yorkists. Badly outnumbered Edward held on until the arrival of the Duke of Norfolk

from Pontefract clinched the victory. The surviving Lancastrians retreated towards Tadcaster across the flooded River Cock where

thousands of men were drowned as the bridge collapsed. Tadcaster Bridge had been destroyed to discourage retreat.

(Towton Battlefield)

(Eric Houlder)

In a week fraught with torrential rain and grey skies the evening of Wednesday 27th June provided respite with a glorious

evening for our field trip to Towton Battlefield in the capable hands of our guide and friend of the Society Mr Eric Houlder.

16 members and friends and Jack the dog made their way to the long lay- by near the Crooked Billet public house just outside the

Village of Saxton for 7 pm to meet up with Eric who began his tour beside a narrow stretch of the River Cock. We made our way in

seven cars, stopping along the route to visit various important sites connected with the battle. As the dusk slowly

descended we made our way along a dim and spooky lane to the Cock Bridge and the site of the climax of the bloody battle of Towton.

Erics knowledge and dedication to his subject comes only second to his formidable style of presentation, clear and precise and

factually stimulating. As always, Eric was thanked by our Chairman Graeme Williams and the evening culminated in a well

earned drink in the Rockingham Arms at Towton Village.

(The Lay-by at Saxton)

(At the start by the River Cock)

(The Towton Rose)

(The burial mound in the foreground below the battlefield)




(Dacre’s Monument)









(Towton Hall)

(Jenny Cavalier and friend)

(The spooky lane to Cock Bridge)

(President Janice Nichol at the Cock Bridge)



(The River Cock where 1000’s of men died)

(The end of the tour by the Rockingham Arms)

Many thanks to Eric Houlder for a wonderful evening

and a big thankyou to all the GEHS members and friends and not forgetting ‘Jack’

for making the trip a success

Tim Patterson

(Summer Syllabus/Excursion Secretary)