View Full Version : Pontefract Hermitage Report

24-05-2010, 07:41 PM
Taken whilst working there, a brief history taken from Wakefield M C website :

Pontefract Hermitage
Not strictly speaking a 'building' but it is one of the more unusual structures in the district.

Below the Southgate entrance to Pontefract General Infirmary is a little known monument, which has been described as "surprising and remarkable".

Discovered in October 1854 by workmen laying a new sewer in Southgate the Hermitage consists of two chambers; a well, reached by a spiral staircase of 63 steps and an oratory, both excavated by hand from the solid rock.

The oratory, with an altar including a cross, a fireplace and a seat has a domed ceiling (almost 8 feet at its highest point) and meaures 14 feet by 8 feet.

The first hermit recorded in Pontefract was Peter of Pomfret who was executed by King John in 1213 for predicting his downfall.

In 1386 there are records of a Robert de Laythorpe granting the hermit, Brother Adam, the hermitage and accompanying land for life.

The Hermitage entrance.

Stairwell leading down, all hand carved from the sandstone.

Human skull placed there by hospital staff.

Carving, this has been carved into the roof of the stairwell just before you reach the bottom.

Finally the Hermitage well, said to be where the hermit got his daily water from, now installed two sump pumps continuosly pumping around 900L per hour due to the new hospital being built next door.

Next door to the well is another smaller cave called the Oratory, this is where the hermit lived and prayed, not very exiting so didnt bother with photos from there.

24-05-2010, 07:46 PM
Looks like a good mooch to me bud :thumb

24-05-2010, 08:11 PM
Looks like a good mooch to me bud :thumb

Interesting place but unless you have access which I did, then you dont stand a cat in hells chance of getting anywhere near it as its very secure, the building above is also a lovely old building that has now been placed as grade 1 listed as the Hermitage is below it, it is said that the Hermitage is one of only two in the country.

Wakefield heritage society have open days there maybe four times a year or so to raise money for the Hospital etc, the maintenance of the place is done by English Heritage.

It will be one of the few bits of PGI left as the majority of the rest is to be demolished in the not to distant future.

24-05-2010, 08:17 PM
I like that mate, very different!

25-05-2010, 08:05 PM
Did you take photos of the oratory, I wouldn't mind seeing the alter. Never heard of things like this before so thanks for sharing :D

I did, just didnt think them worthy however since you asked....

Oratory alter, not a brilliant photo as it is a very small room so struggled to get it all in shot.

Entrance to the Oratory.

25-05-2010, 10:05 PM
What an interesting little place. Nice one :thumb