History of the Friarwood Valley

Pontefract's St Richard's Friary was founded in 1256, built on land donated by Edmund de Lacy in the Friarwood Valley. Unlike the Cluniac monks of St John's Priory in Pontefract, the Dominicans were an open order who went out into the surrounding communities preaching, and were known as the "Black Friars" from their black habits. The Friary and its church were completely demolished following the "Dissolution of the Monasteries" in 1538 and there was no trace of the Friary left above ground level. Maps from the Civil War onwards show no record of the Friary; later Ordnance Survey maps placed the Friary at the western end of Friarwood Valley Gardens, but archaeological excavations over the past 50 years has confirmed that the remains of the Friary lie beneath the now demolished Pontefract General Infirmary site, on the eastern edge of Friarwood Valley Gardens.


This reconstructed view of St Richard's Friary in about 1400, by Ron Wilson of Pontefract and District Archaeological Society, is based on evidence from archaeological digs in 1963, 2011 and 2012. The view is from the south slope of Friarwood Valley.

For more information about the history of the Friary, click on the links below:

History of the Valley Gardens

The history of Friarwood Valley Gardens as a public park is described in an information board which can be found close to the Southgate Townend entrance. There is also a stone plaque inset into the wall there commemorating the commencement of the creation of the Valley Gardens in 1950.