Friday, 20 December 2013

1461 And All That

Thursday started off on a lovely sunny note if a little on the cool side. By lunchtime however it had clouded over and it remained distinctly chilly.

Thursday was another opportunity to photograph some steam locomotive action reasonably locally on the East Coast Main Line. Another train was heading to York for some Yuletide festivities this time it was the Cathedral Express once again from London Kings Cross. 
As it was such a nice sunny morning we set off looking for a different location for our photography expedition. Our journey took us close by the village of Towton where in 1461 records suggest one of the bloodiest battles ever fought on English soil took place. I'm guessing it was before the game of cricket had been invented as back then the rivalry between the Yorkists and Lancastrians was about who should be king of England rather than who had the best cricket team. Whenever we pass this little church all by itself in a field close to the village I think of the battle.
In 1461 England strangely had not one but two kings. One Henry VI had the support of the Lancastrians whilst the other Edward IV had the support of the Yorkists. It wasn’t a satisfactory situation and couldn't last. There were several battles around the country between the warring factions which eventually ended at the Battle of Towton on Palm Sunday 29 March 1461. The Yorkists routed the Lancastrians and folk law has it that Cock Beck ran red with blood. 
This cross was erected to commemorate the battle that took place. Historical records of the numbers of casualties vary from around 9,000 to as many as 30,000. There’s now a little trail to walk along from which some of the sites where the battle took place can be viewed. As for the little church I'm not sure what, if any, are its connections to this battle it’s just that every time I drive past it, it reminds me of the famous Battle of Towton.

We did manage to find somewhere to take some photographs of 4464 Bittern steaming towards York with The Cathedrals Express.
This locomotive is a sister to Union of South Africa which we saw on Saturday. Both locomotives are on their historical stomping ground where they hauled the London and North Eastern Railway’s companies high speed express trains, such as “The Flying Scotsman”, from London to Scotland. This was in competition with their arch rivals London Midland and Scottish Railways who operated on the West Coast Main line from London to Scotland. As far as I know the rivalry didn't lead to any battles such as the one at Towton.


  1. I can recommend The Rockingham Arms at Towton if you're looking for somewhere to eat when you next visit Towton, and it's dog friendly too.

    1. Thanks for the tip. Might give it a try next time we're out that way.


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