Church Explorers

Discover the history hidden in plain sight

Discover magnificent churches across Yorkshire

Church Explorers is a summer-long festival celebrating the architectural and archaeological importance of Yorkshire’s magnificent church buildings.

For the 2018 festival we are exploring the theme of Memorials, focusing on churches as places of memory and exploring how they serve as records and reminders of historic events for their local communities. In our participating churches you will find grand monuments to princes and parliamentarians, as well as more simple tributes erected by families in memory of their loved ones.

In this Centenary year of the end of the First World War in 1918, we are also exploring war memorials in the churches. Church Explorers will showcase the stories that lie behind the names carved in stone and reflect on how people commemorated those lost.

Church Explorers 2018 will bring these memorials to life as our participating churches share the stories they have discovered in a season of events, open days and exhibitions. Discover all on offer below and be sure to share your experiences on Social Media using #ChurchExplorers.

This project provides York Archaeological Trust with an opportunity to achieve our mission to build better lives through heritage.

Upcoming Events

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30.6.2018

St Helen’s Bilton-in-Ainsty

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Starts: 30.6.2018 / 8:00am
Ends: 7.9.2018 / 8:00pm
Where: St Helen's Church, Bilton-in-Ainsty, YO26 7NL

St Helen’s war memorial is situated in the church graveyard, and can be visited at any time.

Our Memorial

The names on the war memorial belong to six young men who left Bilton-in-Ainsty and Bickerton to fight for King and country. They probably gave little thought to the dangers they were about to face and were probably totally unprepared for the horrors they were about to encounter. The war memorial is a gabled Portland stone crucifix. The shaft of the cross is moulded at the bottom and stands on a plinth on a three-stepped base, which is inscribed with dedications and the names of the fallen. It stands beside St Helen’s church on Church Street and commemorates the men from the villages of Bilton and Bickerton who fell in World War I.

‘Their names liveth for evermore.’

This memorial stone was set up by the people of Bilton and Bickerton unveiled by Colonel Jerome CB CMG of Bilton Hall and dedicated by the Reverend Canon Austen MA, Chancellor of York Minster, on 5 June 1920 .In July 2002 English Heritage made a grant of £1350 towards work to clean the memorial of lichen and then to lightly cut out the letters in the areas where this was necessary. The two texts on the plinth of the memorial read Remember with thanksgiving with honour those from this parish who gave their lives For King and Country in the Great War 1914 – 1919

30.6.2018

St Helen and the Holy Cross, Sheriff Hutton

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Starts: 30.6.2018 / 10:00am
Ends: 7.9.2018 / 5:00pm
Where: St Helen and the Holy Cross, Sheriff Hutton, York YO60 6SX

The church is open daily for visitors to see the memorials, access to the memorial is via the North Aisle. Proximity controlled flood lighting is installed for visitors to examine the tomb and read the background information.

Our Memorial

One of the more interesting memorials in St Helen and the Holy Cross is the alabaster tomb effigy thought to be of Edward, earl of Salisbury, later Prince of Wales, only son of King Richard III and Queen Anne. The memorial lies in the North Aisle (St Nicholas Chapel) below the stained glass window which depicts the “Sun in Splendour”, badge of Edward IV.  Although restored and rebuilt in this position in the 20th Century with support from the Richard III Society, it is more likely to have been located originally in the Chapel of St Mary and St Peter in the South aisle built by the Nevilles around 1350.  Richard III visited this chapel in 1485 and authorised the payment of £5 to William Sympson, “chauntry prest to our Lady Chapel”.

Edward died, aged 11, at Middleham Castle in 1485 of tuberculosis when his mother and father were at Nottingham Castle as King Richard prepared to move south to counter the threat of invasion by Henry Tudor.  “You might have seen”, records the Croyland Chronicle” his father and mother in a state almost bordering on madness, by reason of their sudden grief”. Richard and Anne are believed to have travelled back to York arriving 14 days later.

Edward had been invested Prince of Wales at York Minster in September of the previous year at the Feast of Corpus Christi when King Richard spent some time in York and sent back to London for supplies of cloth of gold for costumes and hangings and 13,000 costume badges of the white boar, Richard’s personal badge.  A plaque on the present Minster Library, originally the Archbishop’s Palace, notes the event.

The tomb, and the identity of the person it commemorates, has been the subject of discussion over many years and it remains of great interest to visitors with Plantagenet connections.  The tomb is located in the chapel erected in 1481 by Thomas Wytham of Cornborough, who was a chancellor to both Henry VI and Edward IV.  The chapel was rebuilt over the remains of the Thweng family chantry chapel and contains Sir Edmund Thweng’s tomb chest.

Information on the memorial and its surroundings are provided on panels behind the organ.

3.8.2018

Leeds Minster – Songs and Music from the First World War

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Starts: 3.8.2018 / 12:30pm
Ends: 3.8.2018 / 4:30pm
Where: Leeds Minster, 2-6 Kirkgate, Leeds LS2 7DJ

Dr Simon Linley leads soloists from the St Peter’s Singers in a recital of songs and music from the First World War.

Donations welcome.

Our Memorial

Leeds Minster has a range of regimental and personal memorials commemorating lives lost during the First World War. The church memorial is especially poignant as it records the names of 76 men who were closely associated with the life of the church. These include those who were baptised in the church, married there or joined in the regular worship life of the congregation. At least five names are those of former boy choristers in the choir. Nine joined-up together in the Leeds Pals Regiment and were killed on the same day, 1st July 1916, on the morning of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. These men included Lt Morris Bickersteth, son of the Vicar of Leeds.

On 1st July, we will launch a series of displays and installations around the church, as part of a nationwide programme entitled ‘There But Not There’. This will include haunting silhouettes representing the 76 men associated with Leeds Minster who are recorded on our war memorial.

We hope that this will provide a timely opportunity to remember those from this church who gave their lives in the First World War, and to learn more about the stories behind the names engraved on our memorial.

7.8.2018

Selby Abbey – Selby Abbey Medieval Day

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Starts: 7.8.2018 / 10:00pm
Ends: 7.8.2018 / 5:00pm
Where: Selby Abbey, The Crescent, Selby YO8 4PU

At Selby Abbey’s annual medieval day there will be plenty to see and do, including medieval re-enactment, archery, bee-keeping, wood-carving and a host of other activities. This year you will even be able to try a special ale, brewed especially for Selby Abbey.

This year, to celebrate the 2018 Church Explorers theme of memorials, there will be a chance to explore the Medieval Abbots’ grave slabs and the many other memorials in this beautiful building.

Our Memorials

Selby Abbey was founded by Benedict, who became its first abbot, in 1069 and in its history the Abbey was presided over by many Abbots. The grave slabs of four of the early abbots survive in the Abbey and give us an insight into some of the early times in the Abbey’s long history. These grave slabs are planning to be re-located in 2018 and two of the grave slabs will be on display for the first time in many years. Come and see them for yourself and also explore some of the other more recent memorials in the Abbey, which tell the stories of those who have worshipped here over the centuries. Most of all, enjoy the building, built in the medieval period as a memorial to Christ.

The Abbots’ grave slabs tell the story of Selby Abbey’s early history. We learn the names and dates of some of the early leaders of the monastery which the Abbey Church would have been part of.  We can even see what the abbots would have looked like and the clothing they would have worn. They also help to tell the story of the town, with some of the street names in Selby taking their names from the early abbots.

The Abbey has many other memorials, telling of some of the people important to the heritage of the town and of some of the great events in the Abbey’s life such as that of the Great Fire in 1906.

8.8.2018

Leeds Minster – 1918 War and Peace

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Starts: 8.8.2018 / 11:00am
Ends: 8.8.2018 / 3:00pm
Where: Leeds Minster, 2-6 Kirkgate, Leeds LS2 7DJ

A day of family activities and talks on the First World War, including wartime object talks and activities by Lucy Moore from Leeds Museum.

Our Memorial

Leeds Minster has a range of regimental and personal memorials commemorating lives lost during the First World War. The church memorial is especially poignant as it records the names of 76 men who were closely associated with the life of the church. These include those who were baptised in the church, married there or joined in the regular worship life of the congregation. At least five names are those of former boy choristers in the choir. Nine joined-up together in the Leeds Pals Regiment and were killed on the same day, 1st July 1916, on the morning of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. These men included Lt Morris Bickersteth, son of the Vicar of Leeds.

On 1st July, we will launch a series of displays and installations around the church, as part of a nationwide programme entitled ‘There But Not There’. This will include haunting silhouettes representing the 76 men associated with Leeds Minster who are recorded on our war memorial.

11.8.2018

St Leonard’s, Thirsk – Discover the Secrets of the Tombs

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Starts: 11.8.2018 / 10:00am
Ends: 11.8.2018 / 4:00pm
Where: St Leonard's Church, Thornton-le-Street, Thirsk YO7 4DS

Discover the secrets of the tombs in our Church open day. Explore the stories behind our church memorial through guided tours and talks, display boards and childrens’ activities. Refreshments will be available, and a display on the history of the village will be in the village hall.

Our Memorials

In St Leonard’s church are two plaques written in Latin giving details of the members of the Talbot family, their spouses and their children. They list family names and dates, family details of spouses, occupations and causes of death. Some of these people have other associations in the church and are linked to other families which have tablets or memorials in their memory in the church.

The memorials allow us to put together part of the family tree of the Talbot family, very wealthy landowners and Lords of the Manor for several centuries. They are also linked to the Cathcart family, another very important military family which lived in the parish, and the Crompton family, who were linked with by marriage in later times.

The memorials help to verify some of the documentation which is available, and have helped a Local History group researching the origins of the village of Thornton-le-Street. The information about these important families has helped to piece together some of the history and tell the story behind the changes over time.

11.8.2018

All Saints Bolton Percy – All Saints Open Day

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Starts: 11.8.2018 / 10:30am
Ends: 11.8.2018 / 4:30pm
Where: All Saints Church, Main St, Bolton Percy, York YO23 7AQ

All Saints Open Day

Church guides will be available all day to show people around.

On display at All Saints Bolton Percy will be record books dating from the 16th century. These have been transcribed and bound for anyone wishing to trace family members.

See the new interactive display with films to highlight our beautiful church, known as the ‘Cathedral of the Ainsty’. Parishioners tell stories of their favourite items in the church; the beauty of the Millennium window, our medieval graffiti, beautiful stained glass and charming Cemetery Garden all captured on film.

Learn about famous people who have worshipped at Bolton Percy, including 17th Century poet Andrew Marvell and Henry Hunnings, a 19th Century inventor who was Curate at All Saints’.  A book on the life of Henry Hunnings researched and written by Alan Swain, one of our parishioners, will be available for sale on the day.

Our Memorials

All Saints Bolton Percy houses a superb marble memorial to Selina Milner (d.1805), by John Bacon Junior (1777-1859). It is a favourite amongst parishioners because the inscription by her husband Sir William M. Milner mentions her many virtues but not her name!  Depicted in neo-classical style with her two daughters, Selina and Catherine, it is a remarkable tribute to a loving mother and wife.

You can also see a monument to Ferdinando 2nd Lord Fairfax Baron Cameron (d.1648), General of the Northern Forces for Parliament (1624-45).  A section of the Latin epitath translates as:

‘…Loving the state to be undisturbed, but unbeaten in warfare,
holding a sword in his right hand and the balance in his left, he won trophies of praise for both.
He cherished religion, he supported the arts, he smoothed off the rough edges of human nature…’

He died following an accident and was buried here.

15.8.2018

Leeds Minster – ‘We Will Remember Them’

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Starts: 15.8.2018 / 11:00am
Ends: 15.8.2018 / 3:00pm
Where: Leeds Minster, 2-6 Kirkgate, Leeds LS2 7DJ

A day of family activities, including tours of First World War memorials by Margaret Pullan.

Admission Free.

Our Memorial

Leeds Minster has a range of regimental and personal memorials commemorating lives lost during the First World War. The church memorial is especially poignant as it records the names of 76 men who were closely associated with the life of the church. These include those who were baptised in the church, married there or joined in the regular worship life of the congregation. At least five names are those of former boy choristers in the choir. Nine joined-up together in the Leeds Pals Regiment and were killed on the same day, 1st July 1916, on the morning of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. These men included Lt Morris Bickersteth, son of the Vicar of Leeds.

On 1st July, we will launch a series of displays and installations around the church, as part of a nationwide programme entitled ‘There But Not There’. This will include haunting silhouettes representing the 76 men associated with Leeds Minster who are recorded on our war memorial.

We hope that this will provide a timely opportunity to remember those from this church who gave their lives in the First World War, and to learn more about the stories behind the names engraved on our memorial.

25.8.2018

St Mary Bishophill Junior – St Mary Bishophill Junior Open Day

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Starts: 25.8.2018 / 11:00am
Ends: 25.8.2018 / 3:00pm
Where: St Mary Bishophill Junior, 16 Bishophill Jr, York YO1 6EN

St Mary Bishophill Junior will be open on 25th August, with a chance to tour the interior of this historic York church and see the memorials.

Our Memorials

Three 15th-century memorials were uncovered in St Mary Bishophill Junior in 2015. These memorials are of great interest, covering the period following the end of the Wars of the Roses and the ascendancy of Henry VII.

The slabs commemorate members of the Middleton family, whose links with the church go back at least as far as the early 14th century, when a Thomas Middleton was vicar. They were noticed by the Yorkshire historian Francis Drake almost 300 years ago, but their whereabouts and condition since have been unclear until recent work on the floor of the Mary chapel. One records a John Middleton. The other, which is now in two pieces, is of a similar date, and originally commemorated a Squire Brian Middleton and his wife, Christiane. Brian Middleton died in 1492, at a time when Henry VII was struggling to stamp his authority on Yorkshire.

7.9.2018

Hull Minster – ‘A Wall of Memory’

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Starts: 7.9.2018 / 10:00am
Ends: 9.9.2018 / 4:00pm
Where: Hull Minster, Market Pl, Hull HU1 1RR

Hull Minster will open its doors as part of Heritage Open Weekends.

The Minster will showcase their First World War memorials, and invite people to come and share memories and family history focusing on the names represented by our memorials to create a ‘wall of memory’.

Our Memorials

Sitting next to each other in Hull Minster are two memorials representing the huge outpouring of grief and sense of loss that communities felt after World War One.

The first memorial is a simple wooden battlefield cross that was brought back from western France by the British Legion.  The simple cross is inscribed to an ‘Unknown British Soldier’ and would have stood originally on a battlefield on the western front. We know it was brought back to Hull, by the local British Legion, along with several others. We do not know the exact location it came from; for anyone visiting it in the church it could represent the unknown grave of a lost loved one that they could not visit.

The Golden Book memorial is a much grander memorial, inside a glass and wood case with surrounding wooden panels showing badges from local regiments. Names were entered into the book at a cost of a guinea. Consequently we know that the ledger does not hold a complete record of all the local names.  There is a tradition in the church that every Remembrance Sunday members of the congregation take turns in reading out all the names contained in the Golden Book, a process that takes some two and a half hours.

Press

Yorkshire Churches Help Young and Old to Remember

Churches across the region are helping families recall the past lives of Yorkshire folk as they bring memorials to life in a series of free...
Read more

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01904 615504

churchexplorers@yorkat.co.uk

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