January 23rd 1882
My Dear Sir,
When I was at Craignish we had some conversation on the battle of Towton, which was fought in this Parish on Palm Sunday (March 29th Old style) 1461.
I then said that I would try to get hold of a Pamphlet which I had seen on this subject, & let you have it to read. I have not forgotton my promise, but regret that I do not recall where to lay my hand upon this source of information. I have lately had some conversation with the son of the old Sexton who dug the grave close to Lord Dacre's tomb, & who himself was assisting.
He tells me that when they had got down about 6 feet, they came upon the skull of a horse, & from the position of it, & the vertibrae of the neck, it was made plain that the body of the horse extended actually into Lord Dacre's grave.
This discovery is a wonderful verification of the tradition in the village that Lord Dacre's horse was actually buried with him in the churchyard. I have in my possession a portion of this skull which I hope some day to have the pleasure of showing to you. The body of the horse undoubdtedly yet lies in Lord Dacre's, as I understand the Sexton did not make any excavations further than were necessary in digging the grave he had in hand.
There are some Ecclesiastical Crosses on the Church Tower, which at one time I thought were marked they to denote the resting places of certain Leaders who fell in the battle & were buried in the Churchyard. I now however learn it is not, these stones with the crosses were brought from the old Archbishop's Palace at Sherburn, & were used in the re-building of the Tower of our church between 200 & 300 years ago. They are however interesting in an antiquarian point of view. Tradition says that Lord Clifford was slain in a skirmish the night before the great battle, & his body thrown into a pit at Dintingdale.
Some years ago, I suppose, a Pit was discovered there, with the bones of men in it. Lord Dacre's tomb has become much defaced & we cannot now decipher the inscription on it. Some learned men, however, many years ago managed to read it, & with your permission I beg to enclose a copy of the various readings the general interpretation of which is -
Here lies Ranulph Lord of Dacre & Greystocke, a true soldier, who died in battle for his
Chief King Henry VI in the year of our Lord 1461, on the 29th day of March, namely on the day of our Lord of Palms (Palm Sunday) - on whose soul may God have mercy. Ahmen.
I hope some day to have the pleasure of pointing out to you any places of interest connected with this great fight, which are known to me.
Trusting Mrs Gascoigne & Yourself are in good health, & with all kind ?encumberances?
Yours very truly
?S? George M Webb