27 venues, an army of experts, re-enactors and interpreters and nearly 1000 years of history will feature in this year’s blockbuster JORVIK Medieval Festival, taking place throughout August at venues from York’s city bars and Hornsea’s St Nicholas church, to Knaresborough Castle and Selby Abbey.
“When most people think ‘medieval’, the immediate thought is of knights in shining armour, jousting and chivalry, but in fact, that is only a part of this huge period of our history which stretched from the late 5th century up until the demise of the last Plantagenet king, Richard III, in 1485 – so that encompasses Anglo Saxons, Vikings and Normans before you get to the 12th century concept of courtly conduct and chivalry, and few places in the country have as many colourful medieval stories as Yorkshire.” comments director of attractions for The JORVIK Group, Sarah Maltby.
This year’s festival features not only the medieval period, but also the immediate aftermath during the reigns of the first two Tudor kings, Henry VII and Henry VIII. “In Yorkshire particularly, in a relatively short period of time leading up to Henry VIII’s visit in 1541, the balance of power shifted hugely, with monasteries and abbeys that had been huge economic players for hundreds of years being dissolved and ransacked,” adds Sarah.
Indeed, many of the churches that witnessed this turbulent period will be taking part in the Medieval Festival, with Church Explorer events taking place in conjunction with the Church’s Conservation Trust. From Holy Trinity in York’s Goodramgate and St Hilda in Ampleforth to St Mary in Thirsk and Selby Abbey, a series of events, talks and open days will explain why these buildings survive and the fascinating roles they played in English history.
“We know so much about English history from records kept by the network of churches throughout the country, so we are delighted to be working with the Diocese of York and the Churches Conservation Trust on this year’s JORVIK Medieval Festival to help uncover some of the stories that these magnificent buildings can tell,” comments director of attractions for the JORVIK Group, Sarah Maltby. “There are some fantastically varied events taking place throughout August, from walking tours around the churches of West Buckrose Churches, to lectures, games and re-enactments with the knights of the Holy Redeemer Church in York’s Boroughbridge Road in 9 August – a real mixture to appeal to all ages.”
Highlights of the Church Explorers programme include:
- Medieval Day at St Nicholas, Hornsea on 1 August, including tours of the crypt, artwork, refreshments and activities.
- West Buckrose Churches tour on 1 August, with a trail linking eight churches in the parish from 10.00am to 4.00pm
- An archaeological dig at St Wilfrid in Monk Fryston from 2 – 8 August
- A Medieval Fair at St Mary and St Alkelda in Middleham, of which the future Richard III was patron, on 15 August
- Medieval fayre, tours, displays and even Church Ale at St Mary, Leake (nr Thirsk) on Saturday 15 August.
- A fun day of medieval celebrations at Selby Abbey on Wednesday 26 August, including drama and music to bring the stunning abbey to life!
The Rt Revd Dr John Thomson, Bishop of Selby, said, “I’m delighted that so many churches are taking part in Church Explorers! and I hope that hundreds of people will visit them as part of the Festival. Church Explorers! is a great way to encourage people to visit their regions’ churches, discover their histories, and experience a Christian welcome. Our churches tell the rich stories of their communities over the generations and are still full of life today.”
In York, the Festival’s events are concentrated on the second half of the month, building up to a spectacular day of medieval merriment – including have-a-go archery, falconry, the ghastly Barber-Surgeon and many more medieval treats at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall on the August Bank Holiday Monday (31 August).
Forming part of the programme will be a plethora of walks and talks by leading historians, and experts. Top of the bill will be Philippa Langley MBE, who will be presenting ‘The Looking for Richard Project’ at York’s Guildhall on Tuesday 25 August. Ticket holders to this event will receive free admission to the Richard III and Henry VII Experiences in Monk Bar and Micklegate Bar.
Dr Helen Castor will present a talk on Saturday 29 August at The Guildhall in York, examining Joan of Arc’s life and influence through the transcripts of her trial. Also presenting will be Peter Hammond (24 August at Barley Hall), looking at Edward of Middleham, Helen Cox’s talk on Magna Carta (23 August at Barley Hall) and ‘Horrible Histories’ author Terry Deary, joined by musicians Eboracum Baroque, exploring the Seven Ages of York on Saturday 29 August at The Guildhall.
Visitors wanting to explore the JORVIK Group’s three medieval attractions will once again be able to take advantage of the Medieval Pass, which gives a year’s admissions to the Richard III and Henry VII Experiences, and Barley Hall, which is this year home to a new exhibition which reveals the impact that King Henry VIII had on the city of York during his turbulent reign in ‘Power and Glory – York in the time of Henry VIII’.
For more details on any of the events, please visit www.jorvikmedievalfestival.com.