More of Yorkshire’s hidden heritage to be revealed this summer with return of Church Explorers!

July-August 2016

More medieval tales of the unexpected will be brought back to life this summer as churches around the York Diocese bear witness to the trials and tribulations of crusading knights like Sir Brian Stapleton of Wighill, soldiers leaving a trail of graffiti en-route to Marston Moor and everyday Yorkshire folk who battled Black Death and mythical dragons in another series of free Church Explorers! events 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.

“As any fan of the BBC TV series Who Do You Think You Are knows, it’s the real-life stories about the lives and struggles of previous generations that capture the imagination and our churches have these in abundance. Having stood for hundreds of years at the heart of communities they are uniquely equipped to help people learn about the characters and events that shaped Yorkshire’s medieval heritage. Their records and architecture provide a living link to the past and their fascinating stories prove that truth really is stranger than fiction,” says Dr Chris Tuckley, head of interpretation for the JORVIK Group of Attractions.

The Rt Revd Dr John Thomson, Bishop of Selby, said, “I’m delighted that once again so many churches are taking part in Church Explorers! - it is a great way to encourage people to explore our beautiful historic churches, discover their rich histories and experience a warm Christian welcome.”

Church Explorers! starts on Saturday 2 July with two separate events: dramatised presentations from the lord of the manor, a medieval peasant, a priest and a nun at St Paul in Heslington, and a medieval open day and village fete at All Saints church in Bolton Percy. Otherwise known as the ‘Cathedral of the Ainsty’, this magnificent Grade 1 listed building is one of the finest examples of the perpendicular style of English architecture and still bears the scars of deep cuts made by yeomanry known to have quartered in the church before the Battle of Marston Moor.

The final event will be the St Mary Bishophill Junior and Bishophill History Group Church Explorers Day on 27 August, from 11am–4pm. This will involve guided walking tours of Bishophill and a curator’s clinic for archaeological finds and true medieval sounds recreated by the Rudgate Singers as they sing Vespers from 3pm-4pm.  

Programme highlights include:

  • Medieval Weekend at St Olave, York: Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 July, 1.30pm–5.30pm – an exploration of the life and times of St Olave with craft activities for children, and archaeological finds from medieval York to handle.

  • Medieval life returns to Selby Abbey: Wednesday 27 July, 10am-5pm – medieval activities for all ages including crafts such as spinning, weaving and calligraphy, food and drink, a birds of prey display, archery, tours of the abbey and a chance to find out more about monastic life.

  • Medieval Weekend at Christ Church, Appleton le Moors: Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 July, 10am–4pm – the medieval village of Appleton le Moors turns back the clock with 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 games, photo opportunities and more!

  • Medieval Bramham at war: battles and burials at All Saints, Bramham: Sunday 7 August, 11.30am-4pm - the re-enactors of Frei Compagnie 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.

A full listing is available on

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.