27 venues, an army of experts, re-enactors and interpreters and nearly 1000 years of history will feature in this year’s blockbusting 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.
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, visit www.jorvikmedievalfestival.com