A WAR LORD
Ralph, Lord Dacre of Gisland, was one of the Lancastrian leaders at the Battle of Towton, a ‘Wars of the Roses’ battle fought on 29th March 1461, when the Lancastrians were routed and some 37,000 men were killed. It is said that after this battle the River Wharfe ran with blood, and that a white wild rose, with a red blood-like splash of colour in the centre, still grows in the area; the colours representing those of the contestants. Lord Dacre, it is said, was shot by an arrow which had been fired by a young boy from a tree, apparently in revenge of his father who had been killed by Lord Dacre.
His Lordship was buried in the churchyard of All Saints church at Saxton, a village on the edge of the battlefield. Apparently He was buried sitting on his horse, a fact that was confirmed in 1861, when a horse’s skull and bones, together with the skeleton of an upright man were found in the tomb. The railed tomb is situated in the graveyard, on the north side of the church and bears the inscription :
‘ Here lies Ralph, Lord Dacre of Gisland,
A true soldier valiant in battle in the service of King Henry V1,
Who died on Palm Sunday, March 29th, 1461,
On whose soul may God have mercy.’
Lord Dacre's tomb