Medieval pilgrimage heralds start of Church Explorers!

Listings: July-August 2016 at churches across North Yorkshire

A group of medieval pilgrims and musicians heralded the start of this year’s Church Explorers! - a series of free events taking place this summer aimed at helping people discover more about their local heritage.

This is the third time that the Diocese of York and the JORVIK Group, organisers of the annual JORVIK Viking Festival, have joined forces to stage Church Explorers! This year, an extended programme sees 16 churches across North Yorkshire, from Selby to York and Bramham to Bolton Percy, hosting medieval weekends, family fun days, arts and crafts activities, guided walks and talks throughout July and August, including:

9 July 2016, 10.30am–4pm: All Saints, Slingsby - Here Be Dragons!

Explore the church’s hidden medieval history, including the story of its knight. There will also be a range of activities to enjoy: bring a camera for ‘time warp’ pictures, tours of the church by local children at 11am and 2pm, a display of the findings from the church’s time capsule and delicious refreshments.

16-17 July 2016, 1.30pm–5.30pm: St Olave, York - Medieval Weekend

Who was St Olave? Come to this gem of a church on Marygate in York to explore his life and times, along with information about medieval York. There will be craft activities for children, refreshments and a talk on the saint himself, plus some archaeological finds from medieval York to handle.

21–24 July 2016: St Peter, Wawne - Wawne Then and Now – Church and Village

The church has just celebrated 900 years of worship on the site. Celebrations continue with a talk on the history of Wawne and of Meaux Abbey, which once stood nearby; an exhibition in the church from Friday to Sunday will look at its history, and villagers will be invited to bring along memorabilia. An organ recital will take place on the evening of Friday 22 July and strawberry teas will be served on Saturday afternoon (23 July). There will be a Songs of Praise Sunday morning service at 11.00am.

27 July 2016, 10am–5pm: Selby Abbey – Medieval Day

A day full of medieval activities for all ages. This year’s highlights include the Normannis re-enactment society, who will be bringing medieval life to the abbey. There will also be stalls displaying medieval crafts such as spinning, weaving and calligraphy. Medieval food and drink, a birds of prey display, archery, tours of the abbey and a chance to find out more about monastic life will all be included too!

30-31 July 2016, 10am–4pm: Christ Church, Appleton le Moors - Medieval Weekend

The medieval village of Appleton le Moors will turn back the clock for a weekend packed with demonstrations, displays, activities, talks, walks, a medieval café, baking, music, a hog roast, dressing up, the Black Knight, spinning and weaving, pottery, blacksmithing, carpentry, archery, a working horse, old remedies, frescoes, medieval vegetables and corn, corn dollies, a shop selling produce, jams, gifts, cards, medieval games, photo opportunities and more!

6 August 2016, 10am–4pm: All Saints, Long Marston - Medieval Medicine – Moving a Church

By 1400, in the aftermath of the Black Death, the population of the villages of Angram, Hutton Wandesley and Long Marston had crashed. In that year they successfully petitioned the Archbishop to move the remains of their original church from Chapel Hill, Angram, to the boundary of Long Marston. Using stones from that original church they turned their chapel of ease into the Grade 1 listed church which now stands on the boundary between Long Marston and Hutton Wandesley. Visit the church and see the school’s interpretation of medieval medicine. Learn about the uses of yew trees in medicine and in archery when every male in the parish had to attend archery practice. Entrance free, with any donations going towards the Heritage Building Fund.

7 August 2016, 11.30am–4pm: All Saints, Bramham - Medieval Bramham at War: Battles and Burials

Take a tour of the church and churchyard, and meet the re-enactors of Frei Compagnie, who will be on hand with armour, weapons and other displays of medieval life for camp followers at the time of the Battle of Bramham Moor of 1408.

13 August 2016, 10am–8pm: St Helen and Holy Cross, Sheriff Hutton

Explore the history of this gem of a medieval church, with its historic links to the Neville family, from Norman to Victorian times. With a talk on the church’s Plantagenet and Ricardian connections at 2pm, and a community BBQ with folk music at 6pm. Light refreshments available.

13 August 2016, 10am-4pm: St Leonard, Thornton le Street - George I and the Devil

Visit this medieval village and church and find out why George I is still in the church and why the Devil can’t get out! This fun open day will include a quiz, tours of the church and grounds, music, medieval costumes, and much more. Refreshments served all day, including morning coffee, light lunches and afternoon teas.

14 August 2016, 2pm–5pm: St Helen, Bilton in Ainsty - Medieval Knights of the Rural Ainsty

Travel back in time at this family-friendly event to explore the career of Sir Roger de Mowbray, lord of Bilton and Healaugh, who fought at the Battles of the Standard (1138) and Lincoln (1141) and went on crusade before his death in 1188. Much of the church dates from Roger’s lifetime, including its amazing collection of carved stone corbels. It has connections with the Vavasours of Hazlewood, and its 13th-century female effigy has recently benefitted from new research. The Young Church Explorers Trail is sure to keep the children busy.

14 August 2016, 2pm–5pm: All Saints, Wighill - Medieval Knights of the Rural Ainsty

Discover the life and times of Wighill’s medieval knight, the gallant Sir Brian Stapleton (c.1321-1394) who was Warden of Calais and made a Knight of the Garter in 1382. The Stapletons continued in residence as Lords of the Manor of Wighill until the early 19th century. A very impressive monument of Robert Stapleton who died in 1635 carries the family crest and carvings of his children. The 12th-century church has outstanding architectural features with some exquisite sculptures from the time, along with 15th-century pews, sedilia and an aumbry.

15–20 August 2016, 9am–4pm: St Nicholas, Wigginton - The Tales of Wilfrid the Pilgrim

See the window-sill exhibition and displays about Wilfrid the Pilgrim and the places he may have visited. At 7.30pm on Friday 19 August there will be an illustrated talk on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, with light refreshments available. Morning Worship on Sunday 21 August will be on the theme of ‘To Be a Pilgrim’ (starts 9.30am).

Sunday 21 August, 12.30pm–4.30pm: St Helen, Welton

Enjoy wonderful views, craft activities and a hunt for the lost treasure of the Knights Templar on this family-friendly open day, in a church renowned for its stained glass by William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. Children will have the opportunity to design and make their very own saint-inspired artwork. Tea, coffee and refreshments will be served throughout the afternoon.

27 August 2016, 11am–4pm: St Mary Bishophill Junior, York

The place of Bishophill in the history of York will be revealed through a display of documents and maps, guided walking tours of Bishophill and a curator’s clinic for archaeological finds. True medieval sound and spirit can be experienced and heard from 9pm each evening at St Mary's from 21-27 August. The Rudgate Singers will be singing the Office of Compline by Candlelight. On 27 August, the Rudgate Singers will sing Vespers from 3pm-4pm.  This will conclude with a procession to the lady chapel and solemn York Salve Regina. Later that day, Dominican Rite Compline will follow with two processions.

All Church Explorers events are free-of-charge, but pre-booking may be required.


For further media information or photographs please contact:

Jay Commins, or Samantha Orange

Pyper York Limited

Tel: 01904 500698

Email: or

About Us

Based in York, UK, the JORVIK Group of Attractions comprises:JORVIK Viking CentreDIGBarley HallThe Richard III Experience at Monk BarThe Henry VII Experience at Micklegate Bar The JORVIK Group also organises the annual JORVIK Viking Festival each February in York, and the Yorkshire Medieval Festival in August.