Towton Battlefield Society
GENUKI Towton History
The Towton Mass Grave Project
All color photos, except those of the Cock Beck in flood, are from Roy and Laura Blanchard’s July 1998 visit to Towton. The black and white photos are by Geoffrey Wheeler, and the Cock Beck in flood photos are by Mary Fisher.
Panoramic View of the Yorkist Lines
from Lancastrian Vantage Point
At the edge of the Lancastrian lines
Geoffrey Richardson comments:
“This shows the area immediately to the right of the panorama. This semi-ravine protected Lancaster’s right flank in the battle’s early stages, but proved a death-trap for the tired army of the red rose after Norfolk intervened on the far right of the Yorkist force and drove Somerset’s men back and pivoting on their own right, twisting them across the field, and down the snow covered slopes to the flooded Cock Beck.”
Down to the Cock Beck
Seen here, the drop-off to the Cock Beck is so steep that the ravine is lost in the long-lens shot. Lancastrian troops who survived the flight through the ravine continued their flight over the hill and off to the right, toward Tadcaster and on to York.
Edward IV’s-Eye View of the Field
Shot from approximately the vantage point of Edward IV’s command post. The Lancastrian forces were arrayed along the ridge in the distance.
Geoffrey Richardson comments:
“The road winding on the right of the view from the Yorkist centre is the old road to Tadcaster down which some of Lancaster’s forces fled, including Somerset and the other leaders who escaped to carry news of the disaster to the city of York. The trees to the extreme left of the shot are Renshaw Wood, still today much as they were in 1461. They run on both sides of the Cock Beck and were no doubt the scene of many bloody, final skirmishes as the pursuing Yorkists overtook their Lancastrian foes and took vengeance for Wakefield and Second St Albans.”
Wreaths are laid here each Palm Sunday. Geoffrey Richardson comments:
“Traditionally, this is supposed to mark the place where Dacre was killed and this is feasible, since it lies immediately behind the right-centre of the Lancastrian line, where Somerset was no doubt, keeping out of the direct line of fire, directing things–just like Warwick. It must have given him a shock [to put it mildly] when Dacre was killed while talking to him!”
- Lead Chapel
Built in 12th century and used by the residents of the village of Lead [now disappeared] especially the Tyas and Scargill families, tombs of whom are located by the altar with the family coats of arms inscribed thereon.
Although some local tradition hinted that the Chapel played a minor role in the Battle of Towton, either as burial ground or as refuge for the wounded, this is not supported by any evidence in the historical accounts. Nevertheless, this charming redundant church is worth visiting as a splendid example of early Norman architecture.
Although the church is no longer in regular use, it is open to the public, and is a peaceful spot for quiet contemplation. The windows were reglazed in 1983 with the assistance of a grant from the Yorkshire Branch of the Richard III Society who still assist in the chapel’s maintenance.
To reach Lead Chapel, take the A64 from York to Tadcaster and then fork left on the B1217 to Towton. After passing through the battlefield, you will see the church on the right, about a mile beyond the battle-marker, and opposite the Crooked Billet pub.
Laura Blanchard and Geoffrey Richardson
Window, Lead Chapel
The inscription below the boar reads:
Donated by the Yorkshire Branch
Richard III Society