York’s Barley Hall celebrates 650th anniversary

It’s survived the Black Death, a siege during England’s civil war and second world war air raids and still the medieval Barley Hall in York is standing strong and preparing to mark its 650th anniversary this weekend.

York Archaeological Trust, owners of York’s restored Barley Hall town house, is inviting visitors to experience two weekends of dance, plays, medieval games and birthday cake on 23rd and 24th July to mark 650 years of its existence.

Activities will include a specially commissioned dance interpretation of the history of Barley Hall – parts of which date back to 1360 – which will be followed by a candlelit light supper and musical entertainment in one of York’s most unique venues.

York dance company, Spire Dance, has created and will perform the dance interpretation in the inspiring setting. Says Jo Thorne, artistic director at Spire Dance Company, “We create work in unusual spaces and were particularly inspired by the rich history and beauty that Barley Hall holds and how this would lend itself to contemporary dance.”

Jo continues, “The performances involve the audience touring around the building following the dancers as they perform in four different spaces. The dancers will perform traditional medieval dance; a piece based on the history of Barley Hall through to the modern day; a duet; and a character-led piece from the medieval period where the dancer will use spoken text and dance to tell her own story. The performance will be followed by a light supper and offer an opportunity for the audience to learn a few steps.”

Barley Hall was bought by the Trust in January 1987 having been ‘rediscovered’ in 1984. Work to restore the Hall to its former glory began in 1990, furnishing and equipping it as it might have appeared in 1483, when the Snawsell family lived here and Richard III was King of England. Since 1993 Barley Hall has been open to the public as a living history museum and has become a popular venue for weddings and corporate hospitality.

For more detail on the history of Barley Hall and its 650th celebration events, visit or call 01904 615 505 to book a place at one of the weekend’s performances.

Source: York Archaeological Trust

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