Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:


Ordnance survey map of THE HERMITAGE
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Wakefield (Metropolitan Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SE 45667 21793


PONTEFRACT SOUTHGATE SE 4521 NE (south side) 8/61 The Hermitage


Hermitage. 1386. By Adam de Laythorpe and his son Robert. Hewn out of carbon- iferous sandstone. Situated below ground under what is now Pontefract General Infirmary. There are two chambers, side by side but on different levels, out of the lower one leads a short passage to a spiral staircase descending vertically to a well. The chamber to the west, known as the Oratory is thought to be the later of the two, and contains a fireplace with a rock-hewn flue, with a low stool next to it, a bench, and a bed shelf. In the centre is a large C19 brick pier. Access is through a pointed-arched doorway, probably reused in C19 from the nearby site of the Priory of St Richard, founded in 1256. The eastern chamber is entered by an original basket-arched doorway, rebated for a door and bolt-holes. From it a barrel-vaulted passage leads to the staircase of 72 steps, with clearly- marked pick/hammer chisel marks. There are four candle niches. Near the bottom is a bas relief figure of Death, a skeleton with prominent rib-cage and fore- shortened legs, carrying a spear. (There is a third chamber, no longer visible, said to have the letters "DITIS" carved on the lintel). At the bottom is'a basin filled with water, this being the water-table. Outside the doorway are late C15 window heads, probably from the Priory Church of St Richard. In front of the Hermitage are 3 C19 Tudor-arched brick doorways. The security devices protecting the well are thought to have been intended to prevent the holy water being taken for withcraft. Pontefract is known to have had a hermit in the early C13, and the tradition seems to have continued for about three centuries.

Listing NGR: SE4566721793


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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