Steeped in sweetie History, Pontefract is famed for it’s Liquorice and annually holds a festival in this unique sweet’s honour!
Pontefract has always been one of the main homes of liquorice growing and it is believed, was originally brought to the area by the Cluniac Monks in the mid 1500s, who built a new monastery here at that time.
Liquorice was introduced as medicine and over time, evolved into what we now know and love as a popular confectionery sweet, whilst still remaining at the heart of many medicinal remedies today.
By 1780, liquorice growing was concentrated almost wholly in Pontefract.
However, with the growth of Pontefract cakes as confectionery, the demand for liquorice outstripped the capacity of Pontefract growers to supply.
By the late nineteenth century, the twelve firms producing liquorice confectionery relied mainly on extract imported largely from Turkey.
**FUN FACT** Fresh English Liquorice is bright yellowish brown; the root being soft and pliable, has a peculiar earthy odour and a strong characteristic sweet taste.
The liquorice festival is held across the town and at Pontefract Castle too, with a free ‘Liquoroice Land Train’ running every 15 minutes from the Castle and Town Hall.
There were events happening around the town in celebration of Pontefract’s lovely liquorice, including exhibitions at the Museum and talks at the Library.
There was a community stage on Market Place with family shows happening throughout the day, along with various street entertainers also mingling throughout the day (we bumped into some stilt walkers and a 10ft animatronic dinosaur on our travels!)
Over at the Castle, there were two viewings of the 1971 version of ‘Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory’ on the big screen, which were free to enjoy if you wanted to relax on the grass with a picnic perhaps.
There were more children’s activities and craft stalls up here and there are also Dungeon tours if you want to explore the Castle further, along with the Liquorice Cafe and Castle Gift Shop to enjoy too.
We enjoyed a wonderful day exploring the town and meandering through the festival, learning lots about liquorice along the way.
We even sampled some Liquorice Stout Beer in The Liquorice Bush Pub on Market Place.
Other purchases included some lovely craft and bath bits which we bought as Christmas presents, homemade fudge and brownies and of course some liquorice Catherine wheels and the infamous Pontefract Cakes!
A delicious day out, fun and educational with something for all the family!