Work in progress
Work in progress

Pontefract Castle Key to the North Project

What does the project involve?

The Key to the North Project is a £3.5 million project at Pontefract Castle which includes conservation work to the monument, a new visitor centre, café, gift shop and museum, and site developments that will allow parts of the castle not seen by the public since 1649 to be opened up.

Work on site is progressing well and visitors are already commenting on what a difference it has made to the castle. The visitor centre is now open, however conservation works are not yet complete and some areas of the castle are still closed. Bear with us and if you haven't visited for a while why not come along and see what's going on?

People can get involved in the project as a volunteer.  If you have anything from a few hours a month to a few hours each day and a passion for Pontefract and it's Castle then read the Volunteer With Us page to find out how you could be involved.

This project is possible thanks to the following supporters: Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England, Wakefield Council, The Wolfson Foundation, Epac and the Friends of Pontefract Castle.


Project Update

More areas of the castle are re-opening this spring and summer.

In late April, the new herb garden was planted with a selection of traditional herbs and plants that would have been used or grown at the castle. This includes woad used in the dyeing of cloth, hops used in brewing, rosemary used in cookery and of course liquorice which was grown in the castle as a crop during the 19th century. This was kindly funded by confectioner Haribo’s carrier bag charges, facilitated by The Conservation Volunteers and supported by the Friends of Pontefract Castle.

New castle herb garden

In late May the Royal Apartments reopened to visitors just in time for the bank holiday weekend siege event. New accessible paths have been created allowing visitors to walk along this raised area of the castle, famous for being the location where Henry VIII’s fifth wife Kathryn Howard started her love affair with Thomas Culpeper!

New paths on the Royal Apartments

Work will also resume on the top of the Sally Port during the summer allowing visitors to look down into it for the first time in hundreds of years. The remaining work on the standing remains will be tendered to conservation specialists later in the year while our partner Engie will complete the other outstanding works.

Please note that while the final phase of the project is taking place some areas of the castle ruins will remain closed. However the visitor centre, shop and café are open for visitors daily from 11am until 3pm.

Keep checking back here to find out more of our exciting plans as they are revealed, or better still, sign up to our regular e-newsletter.