Bury Castle, Sir Thomas & the Wrong King

Fittingly, the Armoury based in Bury’s towncentre stands by the remains of a medieval fortified manor house or small castle, the foundations and lower walls of which may still be seen. The castle belonged to Sir Thomas Pilkington in the 1480s, who, unfortunately for him, supported the losing side in the Wars of the Roses and at Bosworth Field battle in particular. For this ‘crime’, his lands were confiscated and given to the rival Stanley family, and his castle was either allowed to decay or slighted, which means deliberately rendering indefensible, by the new Tudor king.

We sometimes pity medieval lords (and tenants) for all the nasty fighting and battling, but they must have wondered which king to support when two men claimed the throne. Henry Tudor saw Pilkington as a traitor, whereas Richard Plantagenet, the claimant and king whom he actually supported, would have rewarded his loyalty had he survived the battle and kept his crown.


Many people who become Christians, who pledge their allegiance and lives to Jesus Christ, find themselves in conflict with their previous masters. Unbelieving spouses, hostile states, unsympathetic employers- all can give new Christians a hard time for the new King whom they serve. The law in Great Britain provides us with some protection, but our brethren in the east suffer much for the name of Christ, sometimes death itself. They are considered to be traitors, malignant, disloyal and untrustworthy, even though their following of Jesus inevitably makes them better people. A surly husband or Supreme Leader might say that one’s first loyalty and devotion belongs to them rather than Christ, for the believer was theirs before His.

John Bunyan, writing in Pilgrim’s Progress, offers this dialogue between Christian and Apollyon:

So he went on, and APOLLYON met him. Now the monster was hideous to behold; he was clothed with scales like a fish (and they are his pride); he had wings like a dragon; feet like a bear; and out of his belly came fire and smoke; and his mouth was as the mouth of a lion. When he was come up to CHRISTIAN, he beheld him with a disdainful countenance, and thus began to question with him:

Apollyon. Whence come you, and whither are you bound?

Chr. I am come from the city of Destruction, which is the place of all evil, and am going to the City of Zion.

Apol. By this I perceive thou art one of my subjects; for all that country is mine, and I am the prince and god of it. How is it, then, that thou hast run away from thy king? Were it not that I hope thou mayest do me more service, I would strike thee now at one blow to the ground.

Chr. I was born indeed in your dominions; but your service was hard, and your wages such as a man could not live on, for the wages of sin is death;

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" Romans 3:23

therefore, when I was come to years, I did as other prudent persons do, look out, if perhaps I might mend myself.

Apol. There is no prince that will thus lightly lose his subjects; neither will I as yet lose thee.

Yet it was the Lord Jesus who perceived us from afar as He hung on the Cross, and planned our redemption before the foundation of the world. It was He who knitted us together in our mother’s womb, who beheld the days allotted to us. To pledge one’s self to Christ is not to find a new god or novel religion, but to return to Him by whom, and for whom, we were made and created.

Poor Sir Thomas backed the wrong horse, served the wrong King, fought the wrong side. On which King’s side are you?